Baltimore Police recorded 71 homicides from January through May, a marked decrease compared to the same period last year and the second fewest homicides tallied in the first five months of a year since 1970, according to a review of police data.

For eight years, starting in 2015, the city was plagued with high rates of violence, regularly recording upwards of 300 homicides a year despite seeing decreases in population. But in 2023, the city recorded 262 homicides, a 20% decrease and the largest single-year reduction going back to 1970, the earliest year for which there is available data.

So stark is the continued decrease in homicides — Baltimore is down nearly 50% compared to the same period two years ago — that even the White House has taken notice. At an event Friday in Northwest Baltimore, a Biden Administration official hailed the city’s progress as a model for others to follow. Violent crime decreased nationally in 2023 compared to 2022, but perhaps no city saw as significant a drop in homicides as Baltimore.

“This is happening everywhere,” Rob Wilcox, deputy director of the newly created White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, said of the decrease in killings. “But the place that it’s happening with the most acceleration are places like Baltimore.” Wilcox, who previously worked for Everytown for Gun Safety, said Baltimore is “greatest success story, I think, in the country.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Nonfatal shootings also continue to drop precipitously in Charm City. So far this year, there have been 181 shootings where a person was injured, compared to 251 through the same period last year — about a 28% decrease, according to police records. That drop is larger than the one recorded in 2023, where the city saw about a 6% decrease in nonfatal shootings.

There have actually been fewer than 71 people killed in the first five months of 2024; a Banner analysis of crime data posted on the city’s OpenBaltimore website shows 67 homicides over the same time period, though entries for two victims are missing in the the database. Police count homicides differently based on a number of factors, including when the death was ruled a homicide, and do not necessarily base the tally on when a crime takes place. Four victims in BPD’s total were harmed in previous years, but their deaths were ruled a homicide this year.

Wilcox’s remarks came at an event capping LifeBridge Health’s Red Desk Project, an annual public art campaign where school desks are painted red and displayed at Sinai Hospital’s campus to memorialize children killed by firearms in Baltimore.

Held at the Center for Hope in Park Heights, the event, a conversation between local, state and federal officials, was largely an acknowledgement of the progress made since 2022. Since then, Mayor Brandon Scott’s office rolled out its hallmark Group Violence Reduction Strategy; Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates assumed office after eight years under former state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby; the governorship changed hands from Republican Larry Hogan to Democrat Wes Moore; and President Joe Biden started his Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

With the rate of decrease accelerating, officials are hopeful Baltimore’s perception nationally could change from being known as a place of crime and grime. If the trend from the first five months continues for the remainder of the year, Baltimore would record fewer than 200 homicides, a feat not accomplished since 2011. (There have only been three such years since 1970).

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“When I think about the trends that we’re starting to see now, in five years, it will be incredible to really turn the narrative completely around on Baltimore,” said Stefanie Mavronis, director of Scott’s office of neighborhood safety and engagement. “Baltimore is a city that is always held up as having challenges. People say it can never be transformed when it comes to public safety.”

The drop in gun violence has also bolstered the Baltimore Police homicide unit’s clearance rate. As of June, homicide detectives have solved the same number of cases year-to-date as they had last year, 52, with nearly half of them resolving shootings that occurred in prior years, according to a Police Department spokesperson.

But the decrease in the number of homicides means that same number of clearances has brought the rate at which cases are solved to about 73%, or nearly 3 out of every 4 cases. That is a marked improvement from the typical clearance rate, which is usually below 50%.

Even with its decreased homicide total in 2023, Baltimore’s murder rate was among the highest of all major cities, comparable to places like Memphis and St. Louis. In 2024, the city still sees, on average, at least one shooting victim a day.

Friday was no different. At the same time the White House official was praising Baltimore, a shooting scene was unfolding about a mile away from the Center of Hope, on the other side of Park Heights Avenue. It was there, at the intersection of Cordelia and Hayward avenues, where three people, two men and a woman, were shot in broad daylight.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

They were taken to the hospital were they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Yellow tape ringed the intersection. Residents continued on. One woman, who lived across the street from the shooting, planted begonias as crime scene technicians documented shell casings in the road in front of her house.

Banner reporter Ben Conarck and data editor Ryan Little contributed to this article.