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May 24, 2010

FBI releases 2009 crime stats; Baltimore No. 5 for murder rate

The FBI this morning released preliminary crime statistics for 2009, and the cities with the highest murder rates are virtually unchanged. Of course, the FBI cautions against comparing cities and there are numerous caveats to making these lists, but the data shows that Baltimore and a handful of other cities continue to remain in their own stratosphere when it comes to murder. Across the country, murders dropped 7.2 percent, including an 11.7 percent decrease in cities between 500,000 and 999,999.

New Orleans continues to record far and away the most killings, with a rate of 51.7 per 100,00 people. Richmond, Calif., a city of only 102,566 that is located north of Oakland, shot up the list to No. 2 after murders there jumped from 27 to 47 in 2009, for a rate of 45.8 per 100,000. St. Louis saw a substantial drop but was still ranked No. 3, followed by Detroit. 

Baltimore ranked No. 5 with a murder rate of 37.26. After dropping from 282 murders in 2007 to 234 in 2008, the city essentially duplicated that number with 238 in 2009, a figure bumped in part by an unusually large number of people who died from injuries suffered in prior years.

Killings are down 17.4 percent so far this year, a pace - not adjusting for seasonal trends - of about 180 for the year, which would be the lowest raw total since 1978.

The sad truth is that even that milestone wouldn't knock Baltimore out of the top 10 murder rates based on last year's list. It'd put Baltimore at No. 9.

I'm scouring the list to make sure I've captured all of the smaller cities whose rates might be deceptively high, but here's the top 10:

City                  Population       Murders        Rate

New Orleans      336,425           174             51.7

Richmond, Calif 102,566           47               45.8

St. Louis             355,208           143             40.3

Detroit                908,441           361             39.7

Baltimore          638,755           238             37.3

Baton Rouge     223,187            75              33.6

Flint, Mich.          111,657            35              31.3

Newark, NJ        279,203            80              28.7

Birmingham      227,373            65              28.6

Hartford, CT      124,049            33              26.6

Oakland, Calif.  404,533            104            25.7

Falling off of the list:  Oakland, Calif. (25.7), Washington, DC (23.8); Jackson, Miss (21.4)

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:22 AM | | Comments (3)



According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, Hartford, CT is 10th. It has a higher murder rate than Oakland.

Good call. It looks like Kansas City, KS, for which the FBI does not have data for 2008, should be on the list as well. Their rate was 29.7 in 2009. -Justin

Heard something weird on the radio on the other morning. One city has dropped its' murder rate significantly by only classifing murders that occured outside as 'murders'. The logic being - Police cannot prevent murders that occur indoors. A type of twisted, voodoo logic but I guess it makes them feel better. Strange.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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