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Crime Is Down In Baltimore But Still Much Work To Be Done

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City officials say crime is down across the city but there is still more work to be done, despite the drop in the homicide rate.

Rochelle Ritchie explains what the city has done and is doing to continue the decline.

Baltimore City’s police commissioner says the city has seen 17 fewer murders than this time a year ago. The numbers are encouraging that the city is moving in the right direction but officials say it’s just the beginning.

Baltimore City officials say the number of homicides are down and continue to drop—despite a triple shooting just a week ago where a man died.

“Today in this area in the northeast district, we had no violence in the last 24 hours here,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

A much different story than a year ago when fatal shootings seemed to be a daily occurrence across the city.

“You can’t even bring your kids outside to play,” one woman said.

By the end of 2013, the murder rate was up 7.8% and 234 people were killed that year—17 more than 2012 and 37 more people than 2011. The alarming numbers put the city into swift action. Batts says six months into the year, the city has its lowest number of murders in 30 years.

“We’ve seen a 29% reduction in violence in the zone; we’ve seen total crime reduced by 25%,” he said.

Baltimore City police attributed much of the crime to the Black Guerilla Family gang and, while they are still active in the city, they are not as strong.

“If there is violence that takes place in the city, we go after that person who is responsible but not just that person, but all of his and her associates,” Batts said.

City Councilman Brandon Scott says the community is now willing to speak up and come forward, and that has sparked a change.

“They have not had a homicide or a shooting in this zone this year and this zone was the neighborhood last year that had the most shootings and homicides,” Scott said.

Still, homicides remain an issue and unsolved murders—like that of 17-year-old Michael Mayfield—is a stark reminder that the city still has more to do.

“Building the bridges and changing the relationship we have with the community,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Batts says by next year, combating crime will be a quicker process with new technology that will get information to officers on patrol faster.

The city is also planning to add more than 60 new officers to the force by the end of the year.

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