Homicides Down Significantly in Philadelphia

We haven't seen this low of a number at this point in the year for 20+ years

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is expected to get a kudos from City Council today for a drop in the homicide rate, compared to the same period last year.

We analyzed crime statistics from the city and first reported on the significant decrease in March.

Our findings show that so far this year, Philadelphia is a safer city than it has been in at least two decades, if you look strictly at the number of people killed up to this point in the year.

We looked at data up through March 18 and found that compared to last year, the City's homicide rate at that point was down 43 percent from 2012.

In human terms, that means only 41 people have been killed this year, compared to the 72 homicides at this same time last year.

NBC10.com analyzed crime statistics data from the Philadelphia Police department. It reveals that the number of homicides this year -- 41 as of March 18, 2013 -- is by far the lowest number reported in the city dating back to at least 1992 (when reliable homicides by date data became available).

The year that most closest mirrors this one is 2001 when the number of homicides stood at 47 on March 18.


Homicides are down nearly 50 percent from a seven-year high of 80 in 2007..

A decrease in homicides is welcome news in a city that has struggled with averaging nearly a homicide a day for the last two years.

“I’m a big believer in evidence-based policing: what really works, what has an impact,” said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Ramsey recently addressed the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists on what his department is doing to lower crime, specifically violent crime, in the city.

“We’re going to continue to tinker and to do things that we think are going to give us a jump on it so we can try to prevent some of these things from occurring.”

Ramsey said the department has focused on traditional trouble spots like the 22nd District in North Philadelphia where 14 more murders happened in 2011 than any other police district. In that district alone, homicides have dropped from 10 at this time in 2012 to only two homicides so far this year, according to police.

Ramsey said that 20 of the 22 most recent graduates of the city’s police academy were placed in the 22nd District, an area that goes from Poplar Street to Lehigh Avenue and 10th Street to the Schuylkill River, to really focus on crime prevention. But the commissioner is not ready to proclaim success.

“No one is claiming victory on anything here,” Ramsey warned.

He is not alone in saying it’s too early to say anything too definitive about the decrease in homicides.

“I think it’s much too early to make a trend out of this one way or another,” said Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia Executive Director Julie Rausch.

AVP of Philadelphia is a non-profit group that provides assistance and crisis counseling to the families of murder victims. The organization also helps students in Philadelphia schools learn to resolve their problems without violence.

“It’s really a cycle of violence,” said Rausch when asked about some of the causes of violent crime.

She says that her group and others, along with changes in public policy and continued strong policing can help to buck crime trends.

District Attorney Seth Williams agrees that investing in crime-fighting will help prevent homicides.

“Increased investments in law enforcement in Phila., continuing our new strategies and a few new laws we will drive down the homicide rate,” tweeted Williams Monday morning.

Williams’ office declined comment for this story.

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