Charm City has a long-running and multifaceted rivalry with Motor City. They’ve got the White Stripes to our Beach House, the soulful beat of Detroit House to match our grimy Baltimore Club. Their burdening art scene acts as a foil to Baltimore’s wildly creative Wham City collective. We’ve both seen world class industries rise and fall (canneries, breweries and garment industries here; in Motor City– ahem). We have had charismatic mayors alike who have fought perjury charges, apparently ready to fudge the truth when it suited them.
And finally, we come to homicide. Detroit and Baltimore are the two most bloody cities in American. Yet every year, if Wire lore is to be believed, police departments in Baltimore and evidently Detroit scramble to “juke the stats” so the bodies falling in both cities get classified as “undetermined” rather than “homicide.” Indeed, Baltimore’s body count in 2008 was 232, down from 282 the previous year–but the killings are still happening at an eye-popping rate of about 37 per 100,000 people, compared with 7 murders per 100,000 people in New York.
But Detroit one-upped us this year. First, Baltimore was reported to have the highest homicide rate of any US city. Then someone noticed that Detoit juked their numbers. Per the Baltimore Sun,
“Rod Liggons, a Detroit police spokesman, said the city in January reported 339 homicides to the state of Michigan, which submits figures to the federal government. But the number that the FBI distributed this week as part of its annual crime report was 306, a difference of more than 11 percent.” Liggons told The Baltimore Sun that figure is wrong. ‘Three-thirty-nine is our actual number,’ Liggons said.”
But is it really? As the Sun reports, Detroit’s County Prosecutor says the real figure is “well over 400”. When asked why and how she came up with this, she replied that Detroit has “resource problems” — indicating that in order to fight crime they needed to own up to the chart topping murder tally.