Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Wire - Fact or fiction

This just in: Baltimore is still the murder capital of the country. January was apparently the bloodiest month in 30 years, with 32 homicides. If that rate were to continue for the entire year, Baltimore would end up with nearly 400 murders. In 2004, they had 278 - a per capita murder rate three times higher than Los Angeles and a whopping five times larger than New York City. The cops in the HBO series "The Wire" (which, I might add, is fantastic - best show on TV...check it out if you haven't already) once joked in season three that if Baltimore was the size of New York City, they'd be averaging well over a thousand murders a year. Now it seems to be true.

And yet, as the article notes...the actual "total" crime rate in Baltimore has gone down at the same time as the increasing homicide rate. Translation: it's safer if you're white and not involved in a gang and/or drugs, but more deadly if you aren't. You may not get carjacked...but if you deal drugs, you have an increased likelihood of winding up dead.

I'm not certain if this is anything to be "proud" of. The consequences of an increased murder rate also means an increased number of "accidental shootings" of innocents in these neighborhoods. It also means the police are doing a worse job of solving the really awful stuff while they've limited the rather petty crimes. Then again...this is all part of "The Wire." In so many ways, today's article was like reading an article about the season...complete with "Comstat" sessions with district commanders (which are apparently quite real...I thought they were a fictional invention of the show), fears of witness intimidation (a running side plot), drug turf wars, and city politics (including an "acting" police commissioner...). Then again...I don't have any answers either...

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