Calling All Supermodels: Can We Forecast the Number of Homicides in Baltimore for 2024?

We can try to forecast counts of events, but reality is a little more complicated than our current mathematical models.

René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
9 min readJun 8, 2024
A stack of white plastic chairs surrounded by crime scene tape that reads ‘CRIME SCENE — DO NOT ENTER,’ set in an overgrown area with ivy-covered trees.

My doctoral dissertation looked at homicides in Baltimore, using epidemiology tools to understand who is at highest risk and what can be done about it. I started by using historical data on homicides and looking at what changed in Baltimore from 2015 to 2018 (the year I defended the dissertation). Indeed, something happened in 2015, around the time Freddie Gray was killed while in police custody. Beginning in April and May of 2015, the rate of homicides in Baltimore skyrocketed:

Line graph showing the homicide rate per 100,000 residents for Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Maryland, Maryland without Baltimore, and the United States from 1975 to 2017. Baltimore City’s rate (red line) is significantly higher and more variable than the other areas, peaking sharply around 2015–2017. Maryland without Baltimore, Baltimore County, and the United States have much lower and relatively stable rates.

Something else happened in 2023, when Baltimore had less than 300 homicides for the first time since 2014. And I write “something” in 2015 and “something” in 2023, because what happened to increase and then reduce homicides so significantly hasn’t really been established. There are theories and speculation. But there is no definitive answer yet.

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René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH

DrPH in Epidemiology. Public Health Instructor. Father. Husband. "All around great guy."