Homicide numbers in Oklahoma City are on track to be the lowest amount in 10 years.
In the first seven months of the year, Oklahoma City recorded 33 homicides, an average of 4.7 per month. At this rate, total homicides for 2014 are headed toward 56.4. Totals haven’t been below 57 since 2004, when the city experienced 51 homicides.
“There are a variety of reasons that the homicide rate fluctuates. Some we understand; some we don’t,” Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said. “That being said, we are glad that the rate is down this year.”
By Aug. 1 of last year, there were 49 homicides, and 2013 ended with a total of 75 homicides.
At the end of July in 2012, there were 53 homicides. That year concluded with 99 homicides.
Both 2011 and 2010 had 60 homicides by the end of each year, while 2011 had 35 by July’s end and 2010 had 32.
The average number of yearly homicides for 2010-2013 is 73.5. The average since 2000 is 61.7.
“The homicide rate is down vastly from where it was decades ago,” Knight said. “One year back in the ’70s, we had over a hundred homicides, but the population was much smaller.”
Excluding the 236 homicides in 1995, the year of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, 1979 had the highest total number of homicides with 102.
The lowest years on record are 2000 and 2002. Both ended with 45 homicides.
Knight said advances in medical care tend to reduce homicide numbers.
“Back then you had glorified station wagons driving out and picking people up and driving them across town to a hospital,” he said. “Now you’ve got these big surgical suites on wheels or mediflights that will show up. And I think that’s made a huge difference.”
Through Thursday, two homicides have been reported for August, bringing 2014 up to 35. Thirteen homicides for the year remain unsolved.
Four of the year’s homicides were of unborn children, one of which was an illegally induced abortion by a 16-year-old in May of 2012. The death was tallied in the current homicide count because the death was discovered this year.
The death of a man who was shot in May 2004 also was included in this year’s homicide count.
Adam Talamantes, 26, died on June 21. Since the 2004 shooting, he had been quadriplegic and bedridden, according to a news release provided by police. Even though the incident occurred 10 years ago, the homicide is counted on the year of his death.
Officer-involved shootings also fall under the homicide count if someone dies as a result of being shot. This year, there have been three.