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by Peter Moskos

May 29, 2015

Deadliest month in Baltimore. Ever.

The Sun reported that this month has been the fifth deadliest in 40 years.

Actually, by rate, since Baltimore has fewer people than it used to have, May has been the most deadly month ever.

In number of dead, the deadliest months have been:

Aug 1972: 45
Dec 1971: 44
Aug 1990: 42
Aug 1996: 39
May 2015: 42

But the homicide rate (per 100,000) for these months are, in rank order:

May 2015: 6.7
Aug 1990: 5.7
Aug 1996: 5.7
Aug 1972: 5.0
Dec 1971: 4.8

And it's worth pointing out that May isn't over yet. (Also, May isn't August, the usual deadliest month.)

Also, those homicides rates are for one month and still higher than the yearly national rate. Put another way, even if no other people had been murdered in Baltimore before May, and even if no more people were killed from today until 2016, Baltimore would still have an above average annual homicide rate just based on the May killings.

Population figures are here.

UPDATED June 4, 2015


Unknown said...

I was accidentally watching Fox News, and they were talking about this : " large crowds getting in the way of every routine call for service. (This means more cops need to respond to every call. And keep in mind that some of those getting in the way are responsible for the horrible increase in shootings. "

Either it is true or not And if so, why isn't any other media covering this. The Freddy Gray demonstrations got wall to wall coverage on CNN. It was like watching NASCAR back in the day, when one unspoken part of the interest was the possible fatal crash.

Even more, why don't we have film of this? Isn't everything being taped these days? The media seems to get what they want from the FOIA, and even if not, the commissioner can release or leak whatever he wants. NY grand juries leak like a sive, and no one (including the Times) even gets a glance.

The Ferguson and similar matters ignore black on black homicides. As a numbers guy, I didn't get it. In a sense (or large sense), they are two different issues. The police are the closest and about all the justice that is seen in the inner city -- and if the only authority isn't perceived as trustworthy, it is emotionally intolerable. Social order is the only possibly to have anything like social justice.

Nevertheless, from the start, I was inclined to just put it in perspective. Everything involving blacks in the US and bad outcomes is seen through the lens of race. And there are more than enough bad outcomes. But almost all distinctions merge and become conflated in situations like these.

Regardless, to the extent this is going on ... crowd interference with routine calls ... it needs as much publicity as possible.

This simply isn't the message that is getting out there. And it changes the narrative. One death is a tragedy, a million a statistic. Inner city needs good policing urgently. Our suburban police have light duty (not that it isn't important). But they could probably take a week off before anyone noticed.

Moskos said...

Funny, I was just about to post about this. Yes, even routine calls for service -- calls that one officer could have handled pre-riots -- now need multiple officers on scene because you have 20 people running out with cell phones and surrounding the officer. For police, it's distracting, potentially dangerous. People get too close and in the way. And yes, it contributes to fewer discretionary arrests.

The officers I've spoken to say crowd interference is a real issue right now.

I don't know why it's not being covered in the national media. Probably because they're not in Baltimore any more! But also I suppose it doesn't fit into the narrative that police are the problem.

Anonymous said...

If African Americans put as much enthusiasm and energy as they did during protests towards these 40 homicides this month the crime rate could be much lower.

Moskos said...

You mean that collectively? Like all all 40 million blacks in America? Or just a few in particular? But then which exactly are you talking about?

Also what did you do?

Moskos said...

Myself? Today a wrote a few blog posts and watched the Cubs lose a baseball game. And then I had a few drinks and watched the NY Rangers lose a hockey game.

I hope you put more energy into fighting homicide than I did!

Anonymous said...

Homicide numbers in Baltimore plummeted once the Shock Trauma Center opened in 1973, which was the first of its kind in the country. Probably a number of the 1990 victims could have been saved with the medical advances since 1990, especially taking into account everything that was learned treating the severely wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, the numbers are even worse than they appear.

Moskos said...

For that reason. Shootings are a better stat. But they're much harder to get, consistently. Certainly, and it has been proven, shot people are much less likely to die now than in previous years. There was a very good Wall Street Journal article on that, with some hard numbers, a few years ago.

Adam said...

Not sure I can take sole credit for this, but I emailed a link to this blog post to the Baltimore Sun, and they've since cited you in their
latest story. Did they consult you at all? I'm glad they gave you full credit for the work. Well done.

43 homicides and still a few more hours left in the month. Insane.

Anonymous said...

Baltimore Police, Cleveland Police and other scrutinized police departments need to continue to cease proactive police work (strike) in order to show the country what the effects of this war on police will be. Show up to work everyday, work hard on responding to calls but continue to cease proactive work because it's not worth getting in fights, foot pursuits, car chases and potential shootings and find yourself to be the next one indicted or fired. This strike needs to continue until these indicted officer cases are resolved.