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News Maryland Baltimore Crime Beat

Batts: Crime dropped for 'everyday citizens' in 2013

With murders, non-fatal shootings and street robberies up in 2013, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts emphasized in television interviews Monday that crime affecting "everyday citizens" was moving in the right direction. 

"It's not throughout the city as a whole," Batts told WBAL-TV of the violence. "It's very localized and unfortunately, it's with African American men who are involved in the drug trade and 80 to 85 percent of the victims are involved in the drug trade going back and forth."

"For everyday citizens, we are seeing those areas I mention drop. Burglaries are down, rapes are down, breaking into cars are down. All those categories are down," Batts said.

Murders are at the highest level in four years, rising the past two years after declines that brought the number under 200 for the first time in a generation. Last year police were able to point to continued declines in nonfatal shootings, but this year nonfatal shootings also rose, breaking a streak of six consecutive years of declines. 

While car break-ins - classified as larceny from auto - are down, overall larcenies were up 2 percent. Burglaries are down, but car thefts are up. Carjackings, a very small subset of robberies with just 116 incidents, are down, but street robberies - the largest category with more than 2,700 incidents, rose 3 percent. You can look through the data here

Though retaliatory killings, stick-up boys, warring drug crews are behind many cases that get publicized, murders and shootings also affect everyday people. Police dispatcher Alva Porter, whose son was gunned down in a barber shop in a brazen killing where bystanders appeared unfazed, is one example from 2013.

Another example: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's 20-year-old cousin was killed in May.

Batts also said that "80 to 85 percent" of victims of violence were African-American men involved in the drug trade. But overall, only 84 percent of city homicide victims are black men.

And according to the homicide unit's analysis of this year, police determined a drug motive in just 3 of 224 cases (as of Dec. 17). "Argument" was the motive behind 18 cases, robbery was behind 13 cases, nine were domestic (official department Comstat data lists 13 domestic homicides this year, up 86 percent), and three were general "neighborhood" disputes. 

The agency officially lists an "unknown motive" in 157 cases.

WBAL's Jayne Miller asked Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake if Batts' job was secure. 

"He should feel the same way any person that is part of my administration does, and that is just as I am called to show up and perform every day with no guarantees, that's the same way," Rawlings-Blake said. "Everybody should have a little bit of anxiety. I know I do."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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