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The Dripby Brew Editors2:59 pmJan 1, 20130

Homicides jump 10% as overall city crime drops

Homicides go up to 217 in Baltimore in 2012, while total violent crime drops 5%.

Above: Some of the shotguns collected last month at a “goods for guns” exchange in Northeast Baltimore. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Preliminary figures released today by the mayor’s office show that overall serious crime in Baltimore dropped by 5% in 2012.

But the good news was tempered by a spike in homicides, which increased to 217 in 2012 from 197 in 2011.

The 10% jump in homicides assures that Baltimore will remain in the top rank of violence-prone cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Memphis, St. Louis and Oakland, Calif.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her new police commissioner – Anthony W. Batts, the former police chief of Oakland – emphasized today what they described as “continued reductions in violent crime, gun crime and overall crime in 2012” in a written release to the media.

“Throughout the year, 1,812 fewer people were victims of crime in Baltimore – including 416 fewer victims of violent crime. The city also experienced continued declines in several serious categories, including juvenile homicides, domestic violence, property crime and robbery.”

The city did not release its violent crime rate (per 100,000 residents), a measure of the city’s progress in crime reduction because it accounts for population declines when calculating crime. The police also did not release today a breakdown of serious crimes, such as rape and robberies, or domestic violence cases.

The preliminary crime stats released today:

• 217 homicides in 2012, up from 197 in 2011. The new number is considerably below the city’s average over the last 20 years, in keeping with the national trend of reduced murders in urban areas.

• Total violent crime (defined as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) was down by “more than 400” cases in 2012, representing a 5% drop.

• Part I crime (the above categories plus burglary, larceny, arson and auto theft) down 5%, or 1,800 fewer victims.

• Total gun crime, including shootings, carjacking and armed robberies, was down 6%.

• Total property crime dropped 5%.

• There were 373 non-fatal shootings in 2012, compared to 379 in 2011, which was described as “the fewest number of non-fatal shootings recorded since the city started tracking them in 2000.”

• There were 10 juvenile homicides in 2012, compared to 15 in 2011. “Juvenile homicides are down more than 61% since 2008,” said the release.

City police report 1,100 gun arrests in 2012, the recovery of more than 1,830 illegal firearms and charges against more than 200 repeat violent offenders through the federal EXILE program.

As The Brew reported, Baltimore’s homicide rate in 2012 is far different from Washington, D.C., whose current population is nearly identical and has been experiencing a steep and steady decline in murders since 2000.

Homicide Watch D.C. reports that, as of yesterday morning, Washington had 92 murders in 2012, including 88 homicides and four deaths ruled as self-defense.

That’s a big change from 20 years ago when Washington had the highest murder rate in the country – even above Detroit – and was experiencing as many as 470 murders a year, substantially more than Baltimore’s high water mark of 353 homicides in 1993.

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