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Baltimore murders are far worse than ever

Thank you for your important coverage of the disturbing trend of increased homicides this year. While your headlines are correct to say that July's murder count tied the previous record from the early 1970's, it's a simple point of arithmetic that the city was substantially larger then than now. Hence the true murder rate is actually much higher.

While this point appears in the fine print, headlines such as "City ties deadliest month with 45th homicide" (Aug. 1) are significantly misleading.

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More accurate would be: "City suffers deadliest month in history."

This is all without saying that between 1970 and 2015, technological advances have made murder more difficult to commit. As David Simon noted in "Homicide," for example, the murder rate in Baltimore "declined abruptly" when Shock Trauma began service and more would-be murder victims survived. If we counted all of the shootings that would have been murders under 1970's-era medical care, the comparisons to the old rates seem even more dire.

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Murder is the most important problem the city currently faces. If we are to find answers, we first have to understand just how bad the situation really is.

Patrick O'Neill

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