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)