Baltimore On Track For Worst Homicide Year Ever

Home to 615,000 people, the city has recorded more killings this year than either the much larger New York or Los Angeles. While Chicago has had more homicides, Baltimore is No. 2.

Baltimore, which has by far the highest per-capita homicide rate among biggest U.S. cities, is on track to have its worst year on record, the Wall Street Journal reports. More than 300 people have been killed this year. Home to 615,000 people, the city has recorded more killings this year than either the much larger New York or Los Angeles. While Chicago has had more homicides, Baltimore is No. 2. A homicide detective was fatally shot on duty just after Mayor Catherine Pugh said, “Violence in the city is out of control.”

Officials say the violence is being driven largely by gun-wielding gangs warring over drug turf. Police have stepped up patrols and are working with other city agencies. Officials say they don’t know why criminals have been emboldened. Local communities are fighting back. Activists have called for a citywide ceasefire, organized a peace walk and held a candlelight vigil at which people read aloud the names of those murdered this year. Erricka Bridgeford, 45, a Baltimore native, has gone to many funerals for homicide victims. In 2007, one was for her brother, who was killed in a shooting. She has also lost a stepson and “countless cousins” to the violence. Bridgeford, a professional mediator, helped organize Baltimore Ceasefire, weekend-long consciousness-raising efforts that were held in August and early November. Bridgeford said she was encouraged that several participants heeded advice such as working to have their criminal records expunged or seeking drug treatment. Most murder victims are African-American men. Shootings happen largely in areas where residents live surrounded by poverty, unemployment, drug addiction and crime.

from https://thecrimereport.org

St. Louis Homicide Total Running Ahead of Last Year

An early November shooting was reclassified as a homicide after the victim died. The change brought the number of homicides in St. Louis so far this year to 185. Last year on the same date, the city had 165 homicides.

An early November shooting in St. Louis has been reclassified as a homicide after the victim died. The change brought the number of homicides in St. Louis so far this year to 185. Last year on the same date, the city had 165 homicides, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. 

The city’s homicide total spiked to 188 in 2015 and reached the same number in 2016. In 2014 St. Louis had 159 homicides, and in 2013 there were 120. The newly classified homicide involved Christopher McReynolds, 43, who was shot along with another man while they were driving just after midnight November 5. A vehicle pulled up next to them and its occupants opened fire, police said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Baltimore Violence ‘Out of Control,’ Mayor Says

Killings in the city have surged past 300 for a third year in a row. Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered 30 agency heads to meet every morning at police headquarters and to make crime reduction the top mission not only of police, but also of health workers, housing officials and public works crews.

Calling violence in Baltimore “out of control,” Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered 30 agency heads to meet every morning at police headquarters and to make crime reduction the top mission not only of police, but also of health workers, housing officials and public works crews, the Baltimore Sun reports. The mayor ordered the directors of more than half of the city’s 55 departments to report to meetings daily at 8 a.m., when they will plan with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis where weeds should be cut, lead paint covered and drug houses boarded up and job applications can be handed out, among other tasks.

“Violence in the city is out of control,” Pugh said. “I want every neighborhood to know I am extremely concerned and focused on reducing violence.” Baltimore killings have surged past 300 for a third year in a row. Violent crime is up 13 percent over last year, and reports of groups of youths attacking people apparently at random have dominated local news cycles. Pugh asked businesses and philanthropies to help fund a $10 million expansion of the anti-violence Safe Streets program. She extended hours at six recreation centers to try to keep young people out of harm’s way. City Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the public safety committee, was pleased with the mayor’s approach. He said addressing broken street lights, vacant buildings and other problems can help cut down on crime. Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis decried a “broken juvenile justice system,” in which judges, prosecutors, parents and other guardians are failing the young people in their care and the city at large. “We need to all look ourselves in the mirror as a community of parents, grandparents, guardians in particular, and get ahold of these violent kids who are wreaking havoc in our city right now,” he said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Study Credits Nonprofit Groups in Crime Decline

Researchers at New York University find that for every 10 additional organizations in a city with 100,000 residents there was a 9 percent drop in the murder rate and a 6 percent drop in violent crime.

Most theories for the U.S. crime decline over the last 25 years have focused on the would-be criminals, reports the New York Times, including strict policing tactics, mass incarceration and the diminishing crack epidemic. None of the explanations have paid much attention to the communities where violence dropped the most. New research suggests that people there were working hard, with little credit, to address the problem themselves. Local nonprofit groups that responded to the violence by cleaning streets, building playgrounds, mentoring children and employing young men had a real effect on the crime rate, argues Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University. “This was a part that has been completely overlooked and ignored in national debates over the crime drop,” he said. “But I think it’s fundamental to what happened.”

Between the early 1990s and 2015, the homicide rate in the U.S. fell by half. Rates of robbery, assault and theft tumbled in tandem. In the same communities where crime was dropping, the number of nonprofits began to rise sharply, particularly those addressing neighborhood and youth development. Sharkey and his students used data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics to track the rise of nonprofits in 264 cities across more than 20 years. The researchers believe they were able to identify the causal effect of these community groups: Every 10 additional organizations in a city with 100,000 residents, they estimate, led to a 9 percent drop in the murder rate and a 6 percent drop in violent crime.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Chicago Carjackings Rise, Including Trendy Areas

Last year, Chicago recorded 663 carjackings, nearly double the 339 in 2015 and the most since 2009. The numbers have shot up even further so far this year.

With gun violence bringing unflattering national attention to Chicago, carjackings have quietly gone off the charts as well. While shootings and homicides are largely concentrated in impoverished pockets of the South and West sides, carjackings are occurring throughout the city, the Chicago Tribune reports. Last year, Chicago recorded 663 carjackings, nearly double the 339 in 2015 and the most since 2009. The numbers have shot up even further so far this year. Through Oct. 18, carjackings have totaled 661, nearly equal to all of 2016 and a 44 percent spike from the same period a year ago. Carjackings started to spike last year, when homicides and shootings skyrocketed while crimes in virtually every other category rose. Some officers believe the furor over the video showing police shoot teen Laquan McDonald 16 times led to many officers reducing their aggressiveness on the street, emboldening criminals.

The Harrison police district on the West Side, historically among the city’s most violent areas, leads the city in carjackings with 82 so far this year, up from 69 a year earlier, according to a Tribune analysis of police data. Carjackings have risen as well downtown and in trendy neighborhoods. The carjackings can quickly turn deadly. Jesus Angel De La O Jimenez was fatally shot by a gunman who police said tried to carjack him as he dropped off a friend in his Infiniti car early in the morning Aug. 10.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Tulsa Violence Rising, Blamed Partly on Gun-Toting Youths

Led by by the city’s modern-day-record number of homicides, reports of violent crime jumped both in 2015 and 2016. The homicide pace hasn’t shown any signs of slowing this year.

Gun-toting youths in Tulsa are being blamed in part a violent crime surge, the Tulsa World reports. “I’m looking at the ones that make absolutely no sense, like the one who shoots his partner through the trunk of the car,” said police homicide Sgt. Dave Walker, citing the a 19-year-old who said he accidentally shot his 16-year-old partner while the two were allegedly burglarizing a neighborhood. “If he didn’t have a gun, then it would have been a larceny report,” Walker said.

In the past two years, the number of reported violent crimes — homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults — has increased 38 percent in Tulsa. Led by Tulsa’s modern-day-record number of homicides, reports of violent crime jumped both in 2015 and 2016. The homicide pace hasn’t shown any signs of slowing this year. With 71 homicides reported thus far in 2017, Tulsa may eclipse the record 82 homicides that were reported in 2016. The 439 rapes that were recorded in 2016 in Tulsa is the largest single-year number reported since at least 1985. The number of rapes reported in 2016 in Tulsa was 20 percent more than reported in 2015 and is nearly double the number reported in 2000. Police attribute the increase in part to more victims coming forward, rather than an occurrence of more crime. Robberies, which had been on the decline in Tulsa for five years, also increased from 854 to 1,088, a 27 percent rise from 2015 to 2016.

from https://thecrimereport.org

U.S. Gun Death Rate Up Second Straight Year

The firearm death rate rose to 12 deaths per 100,000 people last year, up from 11 per 100,000 in 2015, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before that, the rate had hovered just above 10.

The U.S. rate for gun deaths has increased for the second straight year after 15 years of no real change, a government report shows. About two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides and those have been increasing for about 10 years. Until recently, that has been offset by a decline in people shot dead by others. There has been an upswing in those gun-related homicides, too, some experts said, the Associated Press reports. The firearm death rate rose to 12 deaths per 100,000 people last year, up from 11 in 2015, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before that, the rate had hovered just above 10, a level it had fallen to in the late 1990s. In the early 90s, it was as high as 15 per 100,000 people.

In the past two years, sharp homicide increases in Chicago and other places have been large enough to elevate the national statistics. The FBI tally of homicides involving guns rose to nearly 11,000 last year, from about 9,600 the year before. Overall, there were more than 38,000 gun deaths last year, up from about 36,000 in 2015, and around 33,500 each year between 2011 and 2014. The latest CDC report means the nation is approaching two decades since there’s been any substantial improvement in the rate of gun deaths, said Dr. Garen Wintemute of the University of California, Davis. The CDC also reported a continued increase in the death rate from drug overdoses, which hit 20 per 100,000 last year, up from 16 the year before.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Baltimore Homicides Near 300, Ceasefire Sought

The second 72-hour-long Baltimore Ceasefire is scheduled Friday through Sunday, with events planned around the city each day in an effort to curb the city’s rising number of homicides. “We’re doing ceasefires quarterly because we saw what the first one did, how much hope it gave the city,” said Erricka Bridgeford, one of the event’s founders.

As homicides mount, Baltimore residents are again calling for a weekend without violence. The second 72-hour-long Baltimore Ceasefire is scheduled Friday through Sunday, with events planned around the city each day in an effort to curb the city’s rising number of homicides as it nears 300, the Baltimore Sun reports. “We’re doing ceasefires quarterly because we saw what the first one did, how much hope it gave the city,” said Erricka Bridgeford, one of the event’s founders. The first ceasefire was held in August after 188 people had been killed, and included marches, cookouts and vigils across the city, and two men were killed. On Mother’s Day weekend, the group Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters called for a ceasefire, but at least four people were shot, including two who were killed.

Despite the continued violence during the August ceasefire weekend, Bridgeford said she and others are undeterred as more residents feel empowered to do something about the violence. “People are more aware about their own response to murder. It makes them think what is one, even small thing I should be doing to make my city a better place,” she said. Since the last event in August, volunteers have passed out 20,000 fliers and displayed 2,000 posters. But more important than sharing information about the ceasefire weekend, she said the conversations are avenues for volunteers to provide outreach. They are sharing resources and having conversations about the root of the violence, she said. As the conversations occur, she said people are beginning to realize the problem does have solutions.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Household Crimes Lowest Since 2001, Gallup Says

Twenty-two percent of Americans say a crime was committed against their household in the previous year, the lowest total since 2001. Over the past decade, the percentage reporting their household was victimized by any of seven different crimes averaged 26 percent and never dropped below 24 percent, says the Gallup polling organization.

Twenty-two percent of Americans say a crime was committed against their household in the previous year, the lowest proportion since 2001. Over the past decade, the percentage reporting their household was victimized by any of seven different crimes averaged 26 percent and never dropped below 24 percent, reports the Gallup polling organization. Gallup began computing an annual index of self-reported crime victimization in 2000. The index is based on the “yes” responses from U.S. adults as to whether they or anyone in their household was the victim of any of seven common crimes — ranging from vandalism to violent crimes — in the past 12 months.

The new drop in crime was not reported across all groups equally. Nonwhites and those with annual household incomes under $40,000 are about as likely this year as they were in 2016 to say their household had experienced a crime. Some crimes were much more likely to occur than others. Twelve percent 12% said someone in their household had money or property stolen, down from 17 percent in 2016. Ten percent were the victims of vandalism, down from 14 percent last year. Three percent had their house or apartment broken into, down from 5 percent. Three percent had an automobile stolen, compared with 4 percent in 2016. Two percent said someone in their household was mugged or physically assaulted, compared with 3 percent last year. The crimes may or may not have been reported to the police. Some official statistics on crime rely on counts of crimes reported to police, so they may underestimate crime incidence. Not included in the list are digital crimes such as identity theft or computer hacking.

from https://thecrimereport.org

CA Property Crime Falls During Justice Reforms

Some law enforcement officials have contended that California justice reforms have led to increasing property crimes, but a study finds that more jurisdictions reported decreases than increases in property crime rates over six years.

California’s property crime totals fell three percent between 2010 and 2016, a period marked by major justice system reform, including a prison realignment and two propositions approved by voters, reports the California-based Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice. A study by the organization found substantial variation in crime at the local level, which suggests that recent crime patterns may result from local policies rather than state policy reform. Some law enforcement officials have blamed justice reforms for property crime increases.

For every major crime except vehicle theft, more California jurisdictions reported decreases than increases in their crime rates from 2010 to 2016. For example, just 141 jurisdictions reported increased rates of burglary, while 367 jurisdictions showed decreases. Across California, crime trends have been highly localized. Of the 511 cities and local areas studied, 42 percent showed rising rates of property crime from 2010 to 2016, with an average increase of 12.8 percent, and 58 percent showed decreases, with an average decline of 18.1 percent. Many places have devised successful policies and practices that are improving local safety, the report said. “The divergence between the 213 cities that have shown property crime increases since 2010 versus the 298 cities with property crime decreases was so large — a 31 percentage point difference — that the two categories of cities actually swapped places. This striking result suggests that reform measures … are not the reason a minority of cities experienced crime increases.” says report author Mike Males.

from https://thecrimereport.org