Killings dropped by a third in Milwaukee last year, making the city among the nation’s most successful in tackling its 2008 murder rate. The Associated Press says that New York and Chicago saw an uptick in slayings, while other cities including Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles had fewer violent deaths in ’08 than ’07. Homicides in New York rose 5.2 percent, to 522 from 496 the year before. The AP says that unofficial figures released by 25 of the 52 police departments in cities with a population of over 350,000 showed 15 of the 25 had fewer slayings last year than in ’07. Detroit, Philadelphia, and Baltimore had declines of 13 percent, 15 percent, and 17 percent respectively.
In AP’s survey, Houston, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Boston, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Tulsa had fewer slayings last year than the year before. Chicago, Columbus, Washington, D.C., Tucson, Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis, Indianapolis, Seattle and Charlotte had more. In Columbus, which had 108 homicides, up 37 percent from the 79 recorded the previous year, police commander Richard Bash said, “This is a bad year. It’s extremely serious, in all honesty. We have a lot of victims and victims’ families that are devastated.” In New Orleans, which saw 179 murders, a 15-percent drop from the 210 in 2007, Police Superintendent Warren Riley said, “Have we reduced crime to the level that we can say it is absolutely a turnaround? No. But have we made reasonable progress? Yes.”