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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Atlanta's murder rate was down (again) in 2011

"Nobody can say that having a larger police force doesn't reduce crime."

That's what Mayor Reed said at a Kiwanis club luncheon yesterday, touting the effect his administration's hiring of hundreds of officers is presumed to have had on crime rates last year. Reed was referring specifically to the number of murders reported in 2011: 87, down from 93 the previous year.

Let's put this into context ...

Eighty seven is low. Like, 1963-low. As recently as 1993, there were 203 murders. In 1974 — a bloody year in Atlanta — there were 263 murders. But, as low as the 2011 figure is, the murder rate was actually lower just two years ago in 2009, when there were only 80 homicides. That was the fewest murders on record since 1961.

Overall, it does appear crime was down in 2011, the exception being reported rape cases, which, as of mid-November were up 79 percent over the previous year. So, did hiring more officers help reduce crime ? Maybe. It probably didn't hurt.

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