Baltimore will end the year with across-the-board declines in crime, continuing a three-year trend of plummeting gun violence, the Baltimore Sun reports. The declines come amid a strategy shift that has police making tens of thousands fewer arrests – and in spite of a bad economy that many believed would fuel higher crime rates. With Baltimore crime still high compared with other U.S. cities, officials see 2010 as another step forward.
Homicides have fallen about 7 percent to 222, giving the city its lowest number since the late 1980s, just before the crack cocaine epidemic sent crime soaring nationwide. Nonfatal shootings have fallen nearly 40 percent since 2007, while reported robberies, which police said would be a focus this year, dropped 8 percent. “We’ve just been building and building,” said Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld, who assumed control of the Police Department in 2007 amid resurgent crime. Since then, authorities have focused on targeting the worst of the worst – Bealefeld calls it fishing with a spear instead of a net. Officials say improved cooperation among state and federal officials has also been key.