As multiple blizzards and historic snowfall have inundated parts of the country this winter, it's possible at least two major American cities have experienced one positive as a result: Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have recently experienced an astounding drop in crime.
Two blizzards struck the mid-Atlantic region between Feb. 5 and 10, dropping nearly 29 inches of snow on Washington, D.C., and almost 45 inches on Baltimore.
The most serious of Baltimore's crime statistics were reduced by 71 percent from Feb. 8-14 as compared to the same period in 2009, according to a report on WBAL-TV's website. The total arrests in Baltimore plunged 79 percent that week with 23, while 109 occurred in 2009.
"We saw a 70 percent reduction in crime as opposed to the same time last year," said Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Baltimore's newly elected mayor, in an interview with AccuWeather.com's Raychel Harvey-Jones. "We went about eight days without a homicide."
Amazingly, the District of Columbia also did not have a single homicide report from Feb. 3-11, according to an article by The American Free Press.
So, can we conclude that most of the criminals play nice when the heavy snow arrives?
Not necessarily, according to Dr. Ellen G. Cohn, an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Florida International University, who has studied the effect of weather on crime for over 20 years.
She told The Baltimore Sun's Crime Beat blog that three elements are needed for crime: "a motivated offender, a suitable target, and absence of a capable guardian."
"Snow makes it very difficult to get those three things in one place."
However, just because major crime statistics have dropped in lieu of the snowstorms doesn't mean that it has stopped altogether.
The blizzard on Feb. 5-6 brought a higher percentage of domestic calls to Baltimore police offices, in relation to their overall call log, despite residents being "forced into close quarters for long periods of time," reported the Crime Beat blog.
Although snow could be a contributing factor in the lowered level of crime, not all authorities are convinced, as one police spokesman in Washington, D.C., can attest.
"The weather may have contributed to the fall in homicides, but historically there have been times when we've gone for two weeks in good weather with no homicides," Lieutenant Nicholas Breul told the AFP.
Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have set record amounts of snowfall this winter.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport, outside of Baltimore, has received 80.4 inches of snow during the 2009-10 winter season thus far, 65.9 inches above the typical total for the city. This crushed the long-standing record of 62.5 inches from 1893.
Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., has had an accumulation 56.0 inches of snow this winter, 43.2 inches above the normal seasonal amount. Their previous record was 54.4. inches, set in 1884.
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