Fifty-seven days into 2007 and there have been 60 homicides in Philadelphia, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Some were sensational: an angry investor opened fire at the Navy Yard, killing three business partners before killing himself. Most were mundane. Men shot to death in cars or on city streets – often after the taverns have closed. If the spike in violence that produced 406 homicides in 2006 signaled a crisis, this year’s rate outpaces last year’s by 22 percent.
“In 2007, we’ll put 200 more police officers on the streets”: 100 next month and 100 in June, said a mayoral spokesman. Oher responses planned for this year and next include: 11 more curfew centers modeled on one that proved effective in lowering juvenile shootings in parts of the city last summer; the hiring of 400 parent-truant officers to help the school district; and expanded efforts to integrate released prisoners into the community. Officials are not sure what is driving the latest surge. “At this point we characterize ’07 as out of character” because a larger number of homicides have occurred indoors – twice as many, year-to-date, said a police spokesman. He said “many violent confrontations are taking place outside the normal patrol areas where police are able to impact and prevent those incidents.”