For the first time, Baltimore is on track to surpass New York City in homicides, a grim feat once considered inconceivable, the Baltimore Sun reports. New York, which has a population of 8.5 million, had 182 homicides as of Sept. 3. Baltimore, a city of under 620,000, was already at 238 victims as of that date. The distinction owes more to New York’s stunning decline in crime than Baltimore’s relatively stubborn crime rate.
New York saw more than 2,000 homicides a year in the early 1990s, a figure that tumbled over that decade. Still, just a few years ago, New York’s homicide total topped 500 annually. In 2011, Baltimore recorded fewer than 200 killings for the first time in decades. New York’s murder rate continued to drop, and Baltimore’s spiked, with more than 300 homicides in 2015 and 2016. On a per-capita basis, Baltimore saw 50 killings per 100,000 people in 2016. New York had 3.9 killings per 100,000. New York’s early drop was attributed partly to zero-tolerance policies and statistics-based policing, prompting Baltimore to adopt similar strategies. New York also backed away from controversial stop-and-frisk tactics continues to record big declines.