New crime figures show the murder rate in Baltimore is already as bad as the record set in 2016. The American city has reached such alarming levels that the mayor has requested support from the FBI.
Violent crime, shootings and robberies are up by double-digit percentages from last year, and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh explained at a news briefing that she had asked the FBI’s Baltimore office for assistance in stemming the murders.
The predominantly black city in Maryland, has experienced more than 100 murders before the end of April. Five people were killed during one weekend, and the total number of homicides in 2017 is already up to 108, according to the Baltimore Sun.
This year registers the city’s highest murder rate per capita in history, according to the Baltimore Sun. The murder rate is now up more than 30 percent compared to last year.
“Murder is out of control,” Pugh said at her weekly news briefing, according to CNN. “There are too many guns on the streets. We’re looking for all the help we can get.” But Pugh did not mention that the guns were being wielded by African-American gangs.
The city however has the lowest number of police officers in around a decade, with only 2 500 law enforcers. “You get in a crisis mode like we’re in right now with crime out of control and not enough uniformed officers on the street,” Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told WJZ. “I would say it’s at a crisis point.”
The mayor’s spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, confirmed that Pugh had requested additional agents to help fight violent crime. He said more FBI agents could be brought in or reassigned to work with local police.
“The summers in Baltimore tend to be very violent,” McCarthy said, according to KSAT. “And the mayor wants to get a handle on all the murders, the flood of guns on the streets and the gang activity.”
The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it wants to assist the Baltimore Police with a gun-tracing van to solve murders.
In Chicago, Illinois, another predominantly African-American city, more than 1 000 people have been shot and nearly 200 murders have been reported in the first four months of 2017. Last year was the most violent year in the history of Chicago.
In April 2016, there were 36 reported murders compared to 45 this year, an increase of 9 murders. There were a total of 247 shootings this April, only six less than the 253 reported in April 2016.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson however said that the overall number of people shot has gone down from 1 129 last year to 1 051 so far this year.
“The shooting incidents are down a little bit over 100 from the same time last year, so that’s some encouraging sign. The number of shooting victims is actually down, so if we can keep trending in that direction, then we should be setting ourselves up for a pretty good year,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said, according to WBBM.
He said the new anti-crime website and “ShotSpotter” gunshot technology that has been installed in the most violent areas in the city have made a difference. “We put those new strategic support centers in both of those districts, so a lot of that technology is helping us be more proactive in the way that we deploy,” Johnson said.
According to a 2013 PEW Research Center survey, the household gun ownership rate in rural white areas was 2.11 times greater than in urban areas (“Why Own a Gun? Protection is Now Top Reason,” PEW Research Center, March 12, 2013). Suburban households are 28.6 percent more likely to own guns than urban households. But despite lower gun ownership, urban areas experience much higher murder rates.
It is thus interesting to note that in many traditional areas of the United States there are both very high gun ownership rates and zero murders.
Studies show that murders in the US are heavily concentrated in very small minority-dominated areas, and not a nationwide problem.