Homicides in Detroit were up nearly 50 percent in the first three months of this year compared with last year, a surge that far outstrips other major U.S. cities, reports the Detroit News. Detroit recorded 102 homicides by April 1. By comparison, the city posted 68 homicides in the first three months of 2003. Detroit finished last year with 361 homicides, its lowest total since 1967, though the city's population has declined 40 percent since then and now stands at about 950,000. If the current trend continues, Detroit could finish 2004 with more than 500 homicides for the first time since 1994.
Criminologist Daniel Kennedy of the University of Detroit Mercy, cautioned against hasty conclusions on the numbers. “A lot of people forget we have a higher concentration of people with social problems. Detroit is unique,” he said, citing high numbers of people in poverty, unemployment and single parents.
Whatever the cause, Detroit’s murder rate this year is nearly eight times higher than in New York City and a third higher than in Washington, D.C., which historically rivals Detroit as the nation's most violent place.
* Chicago, a city of 2.9 million, had 103 dead as of April 1, compared with 124 last year.
* New York City, with 8 million residents, had 108 homicides through March 14. Killings there are up 4 percent this year.
* Los Angeles, with 3.7 million residents, had 136 homicides through April 3–2 percent more than a year ago.
* Washington has seen homicides fall 18 percent this year to 46 dead through March.
Among major cities surveyed by The News, only Philadelphia reported a significant rise in homicides. That city of 1.5 million reported 82 slayings in the first three months–up 19 percent from last year.