2017: Homicides soar in Baltimore, drop in DC

WASHINGTON — The year 2017 was a tale of two cities when it came to violent crime in the District and in Baltimore, Maryland.

As of Thursday morning, Baltimore had recorded more than 340 homicides — an increase of about 8 percent over last year’s 318.

This year’s crime numbers set a record for the city in terms of homicides per capita.

“No one is proud of this violence,” said Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith earlier in the year. “It shouldn’t be tolerated. We should be doing what we can to make sure there is not another person who is associated with that number.”

Mayor Catherine Pugh planned to host a candlelight vigil Thursday evening to remember the victims and to recognize the families impacted by violent crime.

“Guns, gangs and drugs are what’s driving much of this,” Smith said.

At a news conference Thursday, Kevin Davis, the city’s police commissioner, called the murder rate “unacceptably high” and vowed to implement new crime fighting initiatives in the coming year.

It was a different story in D.C., where homicides dropped about 16 percent. The District had 113 murders, down from 134 last year.

“Crime is down significantly,” Kevin Donahue, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said in October.

Donahue spoke with Police Chief Peter Newsham about an annual summer program that puts extra resources in neighborhoods that tend to struggle with higher crime numbers in warmer months.

The program was successful, officials said, with five neighborhoods seeing an overall 38 percent reduction in violent crime between May and the end of August.

Newsham said members of the community were also very helpful.

“People have been overwhelmingly supportive in assisting,” he said. “They’re giving us tips and we’re able to hold these people accountable for their actions.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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