Cleveland’s homicide rate, among the country’s worst in 2005, may be as bad this year, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With 114 homicides last year, Cleveland had the nation’s 11th-highest homicide rate among cities with more than 250,000 residents. Cleveland averaged 24.9 homicides per 100,000 people. In the first seven weeks of 2006, the city had 19 homicides, putting Cleveland on pace for another deadly year. Last year’s homicide total was a 46 percent increase from 2004. “You have people shooting people over a cross-eyed glance or over stepping on someone’s shoe,” said Lt. Thomas Stacho, a Cleveland police spokesman.
Many cities with high rates in 2005, including Cleveland, have deep-rooted poverty and drug problems. Mayor Frank Jackson doesn’t have a plan aimed specifically at homicides. He favors a multifaceted attack, targeting all aspects of crime, from gang activity to traffic offenders. A contrast to Cleveland is El Paso, Tx., which had the nation’s lowest homicide rate last year. About eight years ago there were between 40 and 50 murders per year, Police Chief Richard Wiles said. El Paso had only 15 homicides last year. The dramatic reductions were the result of wide-ranging anti-gang tactics. The most effective was a team that responds to drive-by shootings; it operates 24 hours a day and has an unlimited overtime budget.