February ’11 Had One of the Lowest Monthly Murder Tallies Ever

March 1, 2011

Here’s a notable statistic: there were fewer killings last month than during last February’s “snowpocalypse,” which critics had chalked up as a major reason why murder declined for the year.

The 10 killings in a largely snow-less Feburary 2011 also ties the lowest of any February since at least 1970 and is one of the lowest monthly totals ever, records show.

As we’ve detailed before in this space, the snow was certainly good for last year’s crime numbers. As a record amount was dumped on the area – and stuck around as a nuisance for much of the month – most categories of crime dropped dramatically, data posted for the mayor’s Open Baltimore initiative showed. There were 12 homicides during that month, and when murders declined for the year, most pointed to the February snow.

So officials – who won’t say it publicly because “even one homicide is too many” – are privately pleased that February 2011 ended with just 10 killings. Scanning my records, which date to 1970, that’s the lowest total for the month of February since at least 1970, happening one other time, when 10 were killed in February 1973.

Only three times since 1970 – that’s a span of 494 months – has the city seen single-digits for a monthly tally of homicides, my records show. Of course, the city’s population declines are not to be overlooked here, with nearly 300,000 less people calling Baltimore home during that time, in no small part because of that crime rate.

It’s impossible to say what drove this February’s decline, if anything. And for the year, the city is up one killing over this time last year, and non-fatal shootings were up notably as of the middle of February (bringing to mind the “They’re just missing” argument). But a drop is a drop, and the longterm trends show its not a fluke. City officials will take it.

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