Killings in Baltimore increased last year for the first time since 1998, reversing the downward trend in the city’s most symbolic barometer of crime, says the Baltimore Sun. As of Wednesday night, the city reported 271 killings last year, compared with 253 in 2002, a 7 percent increase. “We are not happy that the homicide rate went up rather than down,” said Mayor Martin O’Malley, who campaigned on a pledge to reduce annual homicide totals to 175 by 2002. Through mid-July, Baltimore was on pace to record nearly 300 homicides; then the rate slowed substantially. Police Commissioner Kevin lark, who took over the top job in February, credited crime-fighting strategies that included intensive efforts to curtail drug dealing.
Clark said killings have become more targeted and drug-trade rerlated, with gunmen hitting their victims with more bullets. “They are not looking to shoot a guy in the leg to send a message,” Clark said. “They are out to kill these guys.”
Clark plans to issue a detailed crime-fighting in a few weeks. The main focus will continue to be driving drug dealers off street corners. “Drugs are the common factor that binds this entire strategy,” Clark said. “You have to attack drugs.”