After two years of rising homicides, Baltimore had fewer killings in some historically violent neighborhoods last year and the lowest number of juveniles slain in more than two decades, says the Baltimore Sun. The final total of homicides is still far higher than the ambitious target of 175 set by Mayor Martin O’Malley during his 1999 campaign for the city’s top job – a stubborn record of violence that is sure to be a focus of O’Malley’s opponents during this year’s campaign for Maryland governor. “We have not been able to get there, but it’s not for lack of trying,” said O’Malley.
Police said that 268 people were killed in 2005 – eight fewer than the previous year. That’s far below the 1990s, when the homicide count exceeded 300 every year, but more than the O’Malley administration’s low of 253 in 2002. The last time the city saw its murder count hovering near O’Malley’s goal of 175 was in 1977, with 171 killings, police figures show. “There’s only so much that a police department can do, or a commissioner can do, and by extension, a mayor can do,” said Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist at the University of Baltimore. “Policing practices have some effect, but not a lot.” Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is seeking re-election. “The fact is that Baltimore has now moved up in national rankings and is the No. 2 most dangerous city in America,” said Maryland GOP spokeswoman Audra Miller. “It continues to be a murder capital, and the good people of Baltimore are dealing with a persistent crime and homicide rate.”