We now have supporting evidence that Baltimore is the “nation’s most dangerous city,” according to a new report issued by USA Today’s crime desk. The implosion of Baltimore’s inner city comes as little surprise to us, considering our recent reportingof out of control murders and violent crime plunging the town into turmoil after the Ferguson effect (2015).
“Baltimore is the big city with the highest per capita murder rate in the nation, with nearly 56 murders per 100,000 people. At 343 murders in 2017, the city tallied the highest per capita rate in its history,” USA Today wrote on Sunday.
The newspaper analyzed 2017 law enforcement crime data from the 50 largest cities across the nation and discovered that Baltimore had a higher per capita murder rate than Detroit, Memphis, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.
Back in December, we detailed how Baltimore’s murder rate is more than 4x the average of large cities, and to make matters worse— tied with Venezuela.
Looking at homicides per capita in 2017, Baltimore is clearly the most dangerous large city in the U.S. with a murder rate that is more than 4x the average of other large cities and some 40% higher than the second most dangerous city of Detroit. To put things in perspective, the murder rate in Baltimore is now exactly tied with Venezuela at 57.2 murders per 100,000 residents.
Surprisingly, the newspaper’s crime desk says the overall homicide rate for the 50 largest cities started to decline in 2017.
However, the drop was not by much roughly 1 percent, which was produced by a rapid decline in murders for cities like Chicago (14.7 percent), New York City (13.4%) and Houston (11%).
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the region added 25 homicides in 2017 (343) up from the prior year (318).
On the chart below, Baltimore logged the nation’s second highest homicides for large cities in 2017, only behind Chicago with 650 homicides in 2017, down from 762 the prior year, a town with a population of 2.7 million, verse Baltimore’s population of 620,000. For Baltimore’s small size, the city had more homicides in 2017, than New York, Los Angeles, and Philadephia, where populations are astronomically higher.
“Where they rank us is very alarming,” Commissioner Designate Darryl De Sousa told WBAL Radio.
He added: “But I know Baltimore in another way…I know the moms and dads that struggle each and every day that try and make the city better.”
De Sousa said the new violence reduction initiative that he and Mayor Catherine Pugh have implemented across the city is working; he further stated homicides are down 37 percent and nonfatal shooting are down 46 percent as compared to this time last year.
There have been 32 homicides as of February 21, 2018, according to The Baltimore Sun; at this time last year, police reported around 47 murders.
Crime is “trending downward in every single category” in 2018, Pugh said at a Tuesday press conference.
The mayor described Baltimore’s violence prevention initiative as “very data-driven.”
Said Pugh: “Are we satisfied yet? No. Are we trending in the right direction? Yes.”
Baltimore’s law enforcement officers have already arrested some 200 violent repeat offenders in recent weeks on outstanding warrants, De Sousa said on WBAL Radio. The city’s violence prevention strategy is about “putting resources in the right places at the right times,” he said.
“We know our problematic areas,” said De Sousa, who proposed diverting more energy and time to districts that are considered troubled areas, such as Sandtown-Winchester, a neighborhood in West Baltimore, Maryland where Freddie Gray was arrested and ultimately died– triggering the 2015 Baltimore riots.
Dr. Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, a criminology expert and professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, tells the Baltimore Patch that citizens should ignore USA Today’s rankings of the city.
“We kind of throw around these rankings and it makes it sound like everyone is equally vulnerable to violence, when really, in most cities, especially a city like Chicago for instance, violence is mostly concentrated in areas that are most socially neglected. Areas with the highest rates of poverty. Failing schools,” Van Cleve said.
“Major American cities with high levels of segregation, poverty and inequality will often see high rates of violence, she says. But crime statistics and rankings don’t paint an accurate picture of where that violence actually happens. Violence is concentrated within communities, and individual blocks within neighborhoods see vastly different levels of violence than others,” she added.
“Literally, one side of the street will have less crime in the same neighborhood than the other side of the street,” she says.
USA Today cited some crime experts and law enforcement officials believe the fracturing of community and law enforcement relationships could have had some impact on elevated homicides in areas like Baltimore and Chicago.
Nevertheless, we think it is too premature for Mayor Catherine Pugh to take credit for a decline in 2018 homicides. Afterall, murders tend to be seasonal; we will check back when warmer weather trends are present in the region to see if actual progress has been made. Something tells us that the implosion of Baltimore is far from over, as the opioid crisis is fueling the second wave of violent crime.