There are too many murders in Baltimore ("Rising Tide," Feature, Jan. 20).A We know this. At the same time, tremendous progress has been made. There are great neighborhoods all over the city where newcomers are sinking roots to take advantage of great houses, improving schools, beautiful parks, walkable business districts, and countless new and old cultural amenities. At least two of these neighborhoods are labeled "most murderous" by City Paper.
Anna Ditkoff might better have used the space occupied by all those little stick figures with some meaningful analysis. Instead, we're presented with a grossly misleading map depicting the six "most murderous" neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the article assigns the "murderous " label to neighborhoods without regard to their size or populations. When comparing the incidence of murder in one place to another, as in Baltimore to Detroit, a per capita measure is correctly employed. Not so in this shortcut to alarm the public.
Baltimore is a city of well over 250 neighborhoods and they're not all the same size. The populations of the six neighborhoods cited range from 16,525 people in Belair-Edison to 2,315 people in Baltimore Highlands. On a per capita basis, the results lead to very different conclusions--.054 murders per 1,000 people in Belair-Edison compared to three per 1,000 in Baltimore Highlands.
If City Paper wants to provide useful information, why not provide year-over-year comparisons for each neighborhood so we can determine whether or not progress is being made? Or delve into the many ways residents are working together and with the police department to make their neighborhoods safer? Sensationalizing the problem is really getting tedious and insults the intelligence of your readers.
The "Rising Tide" article neglected one set of facts that I am certain others would like to know, as well as myself. Racial, gender, and ethnic statistics are boring. Age is meaningful, however. Just who are the 185 "unknowns" in the article, which is close to 80 percent of the total homicides, and what are some similarities of the folks in that group? One might surmise from the stats--that of the 20-29 year group, and a whopping percentage of those African-American--that there is something about that group that needs more study, analysis, and direct inquiry, or maybe just acknowledge the irony that these are just routine lifestyle antics that are self-destroying this particular subculture in which deadly force is the arbiter of choice.
Michael Di Menna
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201