Why have Baltimoreand New York City gone in opposite directions as far as the murder rate is concerned? Seven years ago, Baltimore was improving and New York City homicide numbers were flat. The two cities have gone in different directions since then.
Baltimore and New York City, separated by just 200 miles along the Northeast corridor, tell two very different stories about murder, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Baltimore, population 615,000, had 343 murders last year. That’s a rate of 55.8 per 100,000 people, the highest the city has ever seen. New York, population 8.5 million, had 290 murders last year. That’s a rate of 3.3 per 100,000 people, and the lowest the city has seen. The cities’ “inverted symmetry” is visible in other ways. More than three years after New York City officers subdued Eric Garner in a chokehold, causing his death, the police department has reported fewer stops, fewer arrests, and fewer complaints. Almost three years after Baltimore officers took Freddie Gray on a “rough ride,” causing his death, the Baltimore Police Department also reports fewer stops and fewer arrests.
The Baltimore department is in turmoil. Two officers in the elite gun task force were found guilty this week of racketeering and robbery, forcing prosecutors to drop or re-open more than 125 cases. The mayor fired the police commissioner. And some community leaders are complaining their police force is not doing enough to protect their neighborhoods. In 2011, the stories were different. There were 196 murders in Baltimore, the first time the city had fallen below 200 homicides in more than 30 years. In New York that year, there were 515 murders. The city’s 20-year run of plummeting murder rates seemed to flatline. Police officers were stopping and frisking nearly 700,000 people – more than the entire population of Baltimore. Many Americans don’t feel safe now. Other cities, such as Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis, have also experienced troubling spikes in murders. In a two-part series, the Monitor explores cities’ varying approaches to the violent crime problem.