Homicides in Boston are on track to fall for the third straight year, driven downward by solid police work, an aging population, and better trauma care, according to law enforcement officials and specialists.
By Monday evening, Boston had 58 homicides for the year, which compares with 62 in 2011 and 74 in 2010, Boston police said.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, who prosecutes homicides in Boston, applauded the drop, praised police, and called for stronger gun laws.
“We will continue to put pressure on the offenders who carry and use firearms illegally and who drive that violence, but we also need stronger legislation to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” Conley said in a statement.
Boston’s homicide rate compares favorably with some cities with roughly the same population of about 625,000.
For instance, Baltimore has had 215 homicides so far this year. San Francisco, with a larger population of 812,000, has had 67.
“The decrease in homicides over the past few years is encouraging,” said Cheryl Fiandaca, spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department. “We are working hard to continue the downward trend.”
Fiandaca said preliminary statistics show there was a 43 percent clearance rate for homicides in 2012.
On Monday, police said that a 39-year-old man was shot on Friday on Harold Street in Roxbury shortly before 1:40 a.m. The man was shot several times and later pronounced dead at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is the 58th homicide victim of 2012. His name was not released.
One of the more gruesome unsolved crimes was the killing of three women in Dorchester on Aug. 12. The three women — Sharrice Perkins, Kristen Lartey, and Genevieve “Marie” Philip — were shot as they sat in a car on Harlem Street. All were 22 years old.
A fourth woman was shot in the leg and survived. The women had attended a cookout earlier at Franklin Park. No arrests have been made.
Police said at the time of the shootings that one of the women may have been targeted. They declined to say which one.
Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University, credited the drop in homicides in Boston to police work, a high number of immigrants, and a population that is aging.
When the number of killings peaked in Boston in 1990 at 152, the city began employing new methods that helped cut into the homicide rate, Levin said.
For instance, summer job programs and afterschool programs helped with teenagers.
The city is also growing older demographically, he said. “There are simply a larger number of older people who have matured out of the crime-prone age group,” which he characterized as between 18 and 24 years old.
About one-quarter of the city is made up of immigrants. “They tend to obey the law,” Levin said, noting that it takes a special kind of people to leave their home country and their relatives to seek new opportunities in a new country.
Killings have been falling steadily in Boston and the nation since the 1990s, according to FBI crime statistics.
Dr. Jonathan Gates, director of the trauma center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said improved hospital care has played a role in reducing deaths as well.
In particular, he said, medical personnel in the field have become much better at controlling bleeding, while resuscitation efforts in the operating room have improved.
“There’s been a lot of improvement, even in the last 10 years because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has translated to the civilian population,” he said.