At the time the city was heading into the final month of 2007, murders in Atlanta had already eclipsed the totals from the previous two years, and the signs pointed to a further increase.

As of Nov. 29, 121 murders had been reported in the city during 2007, following 20-year lows of 110 in 2006 and 90 in 2005, according to the Atlanta Police Department.

Statements from Atlanta police blame the increase in murders in part on the yearlong absence of the narcotics unit, which was disbanded after the shooting of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in November 2006.

Speaking to the numbers, Atlanta police spokesperson Judy Pal said, “This is something that absolutely concerns the Atlanta Police Department because we were on a downward trend.”

The statistics are not close to the 1980s and early 1990s, when homicides topped 200 for five straight years and peaked in 1989 at 246. But the numbers are creeping back toward levels seen between 1997 and 2003, a seven-year stretch when the city averaged about 146 slayings a year.