Violent crime in Baltimore increased last year for the first time since 1999, say FBI statistics that surprised the police commissioner, the Baltimore Sun reports. The 4 percent increase over 2003, an uptick that city officials scrambled to explain yesterday, opens the door for opponents to criticize Mayor Martin O’Malley. “If violent crime is up 4 percent, that is the most important problem in the city of Baltimore,” said Audra Miller, a state Republican spokeswoman. “Clearly, it demonstrates that Martin O’Malley cannot deliver on his grand promises.”
O’Malley said city crime has fallen 40 percent since he took office in 1999. Criminologist Ralph Taylor of Temple University agreed that it is more significant to look at long-term trends. “Crime bounces up and down; it’s kind of like the stock market,” said Taylor, the author of a book about Baltimore crime. “What you’ve done is you’ve taken two snapshots out of a movie.” Baltimore remained one of the country’s deadliest cities. There was one killing for about every 6,500 residents in Chicago, and one for about every 14,550 residents in New York. In Baltimore, there was one killing for about every 2,350 residents.