BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Designate Darryl De Sousa spoke about violence reduction Tuesday morning, and say crime is trending downward.
The number of killings is down by 15 compared to this time last year. That’s a reduction of about 30 percent.
Still, Baltimore remains a violent city, with roughly five murders every week so far in 2018.
“[I] read the USA Today piece about Baltimore being one of the most violent cities in America – the most violent – but what we want you to know is that ever since November, we’ve been trending downward, in terms of crime,” Mayor Pugh said.
Pugh spoke on Tuesday about USA Today report that called Baltimore “America’s most dangerous city,” citing that Baltimore had the most per capita murder rate in the station.
She added that there has been a sharp reduction in recent weeks to murders, as they’re down double digits.
“Are we satisfied? No. Are we trending in the right direction? Yes. Are we strategically focused on what needs to happen? Absolutely,” Pugh said.
Pugh recently replaced the commissioner, and he pointed to new tech, including the shot spotter program to respond to shootings faster.
“We’re talking about technology, we’re talking about the license plate readers that’s coming, both fixed, and going to be on mobile units that’s going to help us throughout the city,” De Sousa said.
Earlier this month, Baltimore saw 12 days without a homicide, the longest streak in years.
Still, just Tuesday night, a man was murdered in a barbershop in Highlandtown by men wearing masks. Former developer Andreas Tamaris was the 32nd murder of the year.
“It was a targeted hit,” De Sousa told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren as he walked the streets in the area. “I just want the community to know we’re here. We’re not going anywhere.”
Asked if Baltimore was turning the corner, De Sousa told Hellgren, “It’s really early, but I’m really encouraged by what I’m seeing so far. ….We know the violence has to stop.”
De Sousa has a confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday at 5pm at City Hall, where the public can speak.
While murders are down, some don’t necessarily feel safer.
Kelly Lawrence moved to Baltimore after the 2015 riots. Asked whether she feels safe, she said “yes and no.”
“I was hopeful after the riots, we would be the comeback kids, and I’m still hopeful,” she said.
Ronald Cook waited for a bus near the scene of the latest murder; he said crime has been out of control for the last couple of years, “but I hope things get better for everyone.”
But the city has grappled with other issues including police corruption.
This month, a jury convicted two detectives. They’ll eventually serve lengthy sentences in federal prison, joining six other officers who pleaded guilty to robbing people. Some even admitted selling guns and drugs.
A recent New York Times op-ed called the Baltimore’s police force “grotesquely corrupt” and stressed the importance of federal oversight through the Consent Decree.
The mayor has fought to change the narrative of the city, and she remains optimistic about the future.
“It’s like the comeback kid, everybody wants to see when you’re down, everybody wants to see you get up,” Pugh said.