Violent crime drops sharply in city

One-year reduction one of best among nation's largest cities

October 28, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police are expected to announce today that they have achieved a one-year reduction in violent crime that is among the best in the country among large cities.

Commissioner Kevin P. Clark plans to announce that violent crime in the city declined 19 percent from 2002 to 2003 and 40 percent from 1999 to last year.

Today's announcement is based on a police analysis of the FBI crime data released this week.

The figures included in the FBI report were released by city police this year, but the data comparison gives Baltimore an opportunity to trumpet its law enforcement efforts.

The statistics are reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI.

The reduction in violent crime from 1999 to 2003 was the largest among the cities that are among the nation's 25 most-populous and reported data to the FBI, according to the local police analysis.

The one-year reduction is the second-largest among those cities, Baltimore police said.

The FBI report does not include data from several of the country's most populous cities, including Chicago.

The 1999 comparison is limited to 20 of the country's largest 25 cities, and the 2002 comparison is limited to 18 of those cities.

"These numbers show that the men and women of this department have done a remarkable job of making this a safer city for law-abiding residents," said Police Department spokesman Matt Jablow.

Although the city reported a decline in violent crime, the number of homicides increased from 256 in 2002 to 271 last year, according to police statistics.

That leaves Baltimore with a per capita homicide rate that is one of the highest in the country.

Jablow said many of the city's homicide victims are involved in the drug trade.

Criminologists say homicide tallies are a useful measure because they are a category in which police have little discretion in the way the crime is reported.

Nationally, violent crime fell 3 percent from 2002 to last year, according to the FBI report, but homicides increased.

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