November, a deadly month

Our view: A murder spike in one month doesn't warrant a wholesale change in strategy

December 03, 2008

What a difference a month makes, or so some would think. In October, Baltimore police officials trumpeted the city's declining rate of murders only to watch November roll out as the deadliest month so far this year. The spike has some people worried, but their concerns are premature. Baltimore remains on track to post the lowest number of homicides in years. Police are attuned to the ebb and flow of crime, and they've pledged to increase patrols in affected areas and shift tactics if that's what's needed.

A closer look at the 31 homicides reported last month may explain some of the spike. The monthly tally included three domestic violence incidents and a school stabbing, and several other murders occurred out of view of traditional police patrols.

In years past, a revolving door of police commissioners and inconsistent crime-fighting strategies kept police off balance. But the strategy employed by Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III - targeted enforcement, community engagement and enhanced partnerships - has been working. A one-month spike isn't reason to junk it. In the absence of any significant new patterns or motives in the city's murders, Mr. Bealefeld and his officers should stay the course.

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