After spiking over the past few years, homicide rates in cities across the U.S. appear to be on track to fall this year, according to a recent New York Times report.
The Times’ Thursday story cited improvements this year in Baltimore and 65 other cities with populations over 250,000. The figures are notable after a 23 percent increase in murders nationally between 2014 and 2016.
The story noted that homicides are down “substantially in cities like Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis,” which all experienced large increases since 2014.
Baltimore did, in fact, see a substantial decrease in homicides and other violent crime at the beginning of the year. At the end of March, homicides were down 27 percent compared to the year before.
But those improvements have since narrowed. As of Dec. 1, there were 287 homicides in Baltimore, which is down just 10 percent from the same time last year, when the city had 320 killings.
The FBI released Monday crime data that show Baltimore has the nation’s highest homicide rate among big cities. There were 342 homicides last year in the city. That's 56 per 100,000 people who live in Baltimore. The FBI says that's the highest rate of any U.S. city with more than 500,000 people.
The city is now on pace to surpass 300 homicides for the fourth year in a row. There were 342 homicides in 2015, 318 homicides in 2016 and a per capita-record of 342 last year. They are three of the deadliest years in the city’s history.
The Times report also notes that “far fewer people are murdered each year in the United States relative to the 1980s and 1990s. But murder remains up relative to just a few years ago.”
Since 2015, Baltimore has seen a return to homicide levels of the early to mid-1990s, when the city’s population was much larger. The highest number of homicides for any year in the city came in 1993, when 353 people were killed and the city counted 723,800 residents.
The city now has about 610,000 residents. That drop in population, combined with the return to yearly homicide totals above 300, has driven up the city’s murder rate to 56 per 100,000 people in 2017, which was the highest rate of any U.S. city with more than 500,000 people, according to the FBI.