- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — Violent crime in the city went up last year, bucking a downward trend in other cities, according to new FBI statistics.

Violent crime rose to 11,667 in 2004 from 11,183 in 2003, a 4.2 percent increase.

On Monday, the FBI reported the number of murders nationally fell last year for the first time since 1999, part of a nationwide decline in all types of violent crime.

Cities with more than 1 million residents had the greatest decrease in violent crime, 5.4 percent, while towns with fewer than 10,000 saw the greatest decrease in murder, 12.2 percent.

Police originally calculated that crime in Baltimore also had dropped — by about 7 percent, police spokesman Matt Jablow said.

“We were all under the impression we were down,” Mr. Jablow said at a press conference to announce the results of a gun-buyback program.

The numbers changed during auditing of the figures, for a variety of reasons, including reclassification of crimes and the correction of bookkeeping errors, the spokesman said.

Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm said he also had been under the impression violent crime was down last year, but pointed to successes so far this year.

“My response is, I’m looking at this year,” Commissioner Hamm said. “The trend year-to-date with us is right in line with what the FBI is talking about.”

Last year, 276 persons were murdered in Baltimore, according to the FBI statistics.

In the 1990s, more than 300 people were killed each year in Baltimore. In 2000, the number dropped to 261 and fell again to 253 in 2002 before rising to 271 in 2003.

Crime has been a key issue for Mayor Martin O’Malley, who many expect to run for governor and who has made reducing the city’s homicides a cornerstone of his administration. Mr. O’Malley had campaigned on reducing homicides to 175 a year by 2002.

The gun-buyback program, meanwhile, recovered 1,712 guns, paying $146,000 to those who turned in the weapons. Among the weapons were 32 assault weapons and 1,152 handguns, police said.

The buyback program began last Wednesday and ended yesterday. It was originally planned to continue for another week.

The city had offered up to $200 for each gun and handed out cash from funds that had been seized from drug dealers.

It was the first gun-buyback program city police had held in more than eight years.

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