Fewer people are being shot. Fewer homes are being burglarized. More murders are getting solved. And more arrests are being made.
Baltimore still ranks among the nation's most violent cities, but Mayor Martin O'Malley's pledge a year ago to make the streets safer is showing measurable results.
O'Malley told hopeful residents in his inaugural speech Dec. 7, 1999, that he would make sure "Baltimore is once again renowned for the life and diversity of our city markets, and not for the death and despair of our open-air drug markets."
He made the criminal justice system his top priority - as a campaign platform and as the focus of his first year - with an ambitious plan for reducing crime and streamlining the court system.
Whether O'Malley succeeds will probably determine his administration's legacy.
The number of crimes, while still high, has fallen recently to the level of 11 years ago, before the crack cocaine epidemic hit streets. Crime is down in almost every category, including homicides, which could be under 300 this year for the first time since 1989.
"We can't turn the city around if we don't turn around public safety," O'Malley said in an interview.
Although he has made progress - winning high marks from some neighborhoods for the effort - the gains have not come easily.
The mayor is on his second police commissioner, murders are continuing at an alarming rate, and he has tangled publicly with the state judiciary over reforming the court system and clearing a backlog of cases.
But in the neighborhoods, where perception counts as much, if not more, than crime statistics, residents see reason for hope.
"I haven't heard as many gunshots at night," said a pleased Sylvia Marsh, the PTA president for Lyndhurst Elementary School, a block north of Edmondson Avenue in West Baltimore.
Marsh and her neighbors credit more aggressive policing.
Statistics showing less crime are important, said Marsh, but safety "is measured by whether or not you can go out into your neighborhood, whether your children can go out and play without being afraid."
Even with the dip in crime, Baltimore still ranks second in the nation in per-capita murders and violent crime. Tens of thousands of drug addicts still can't get treatment, and some neighborhoods are still overwhelmed by drug dealers and their deadly disputes.
And many residents feel that the mayor's crime-fighting initiatives are concentrated only in the most dangerous areas.
"He did clean up a few of the open-air drug markets, but that's all in East Baltimore and at the [Pennsylvania] Avenue Market," said Park Heights resident Freddie Howard, 48, referring to O'Malley's campaign vow to clear 10 markets within six months of getting elected.
O'Malley claims to have fulfilled that promise of clearing drug corners, but Howard said, "The drug problem here has not been cleaned up."
In Brooklyn, residents confronted O'Malley at a meeting at a bingo hall last month to complain about prostitutes in the area.
Richard G. Anderson, president of the coalition representing Curtis Bay and Brooklyn, said he walked out confident that crime is being effectively addressed for the first time in years.
But the next Sunday, a teacher at his church was mugged and robbed of her purse, after getting off a bus on East Patapsco Avenue.
"That one incident has dissolved how I felt," Anderson said. "It's not fair to blame Martin, but it's an indication that the crime issue is not over yet."
Long before he became mayor, O'Malley made a name for himself as a city councilman, railing against crime and criticizing the police commissioner under his predecessor. Since his election last year, he has moved quickly to reshape the force in his image.
His first choice for commissioner, Ronald L. Daniel, a Baltimore native and career police officer, didn't move fast enough to lower crime, and O'Malley accepted his resignation just 57 days after appointing him.
He then chose an outsider from New York to head the department.
Long enamored with successes there, he hired New York's chief anti-crime strategist, Edward T. Norris, and faced down criticism that his promised crime drop would come with baggage: a so-called zero-tolerance approach to crime and the police brutality for which many felt that city was known.
But O'Malley quickly found that he has little control over a second, but equally important, component in battling Baltimore's crime: the beleaguered court system.
Streamlining the justice system, he said, continues to be his biggest frustration.
The former prosecutor and defense lawyer gave Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy about $2 million in city funds so she could put in place a key reform to weed out weak cases before they clog up the system.
But he is only halfway to his goal to move 50 percent of cases through the system within 24 hours of arrest.