By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner are celebrating what they are calling “significant progress” in 2014 in a citywide crackdown on violence.

Rick Ritter has more on the numbers and the city’s plans for the new year.

Overall, crime was down eight percent in 2014. Both the mayor and police commissioner say it may seem unrealistic, but they plan on turning Baltimore into the safest big city in the nation.

New year, same goal: Baltimore top cop is trying to turn a city around that saw plenty of dismay in 2014. Crimes rocking headlines, like the unsolved murder of three-year-old McKenzie Elliot.

“This is not going to go anywhere. This is going to stick with me forever,” said Nina Epps, McKenzie’s mother.

And a series of police brutality cases, like the one involving 32-year-old Kollin Truss. A historical problem for the department and behavior officials call “disgusting” and say won’t be tolerated in 2015.

“I demand this organization to have a reverence for human life,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts, Baltimore Police Department.

Despite another year of 200-plus murders, homicides, shootings, robberies and burglaries were all down in 2014 along with the number of excessive force complaints and lawsuits filed against police.

“This is the second best year that the city has had in decades, if not in the history,” Commissioner Batts said.

The city also made strides with Operation Ceasefire–a program that tries to turn some of the most violent offenders away from leading a criminal lifestyle. It was implemented in both the Eastern and Western District, taking millions of dollars in cash and drugs off the streets.

“We are right to focus on most violent repeat offenders who are responsible for a majority of violent crime in our city,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

Significant progress has been made, but plenty of work still lies ahead for a city in desperate need of change.

“To you, Baltimore, we’re getting better,” the commissioner said.

Police will soon implement a new schedule to put more cops on the streets. This, as they continue to work with the Department of Justice in a full review of their police department.

The mayor has set up a work group to look into the issue of officers wearing body cameras. She expects to hear back from the group early this year.

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Rick Ritter

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