Philadelphia’s much-ballyhooed homicide total appears to be slowing down, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. After outpacing the 2006 figure for much of the year by 5 percent or more, the 320 homicides by midnight Wednesday was one fewer than were recorded by the same date last year. Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said the factors governing the volume of people killing each other are a mystery and beyond the influence of law enforcement. “We didn’t take responsibility for it going up, and we’re not going to take credit for it going down,” said Johnson.
Police have confiscated 3,371 firearms this year, up 38 percent from last year. They have made 58,654 arrests, up 3 percent. “Overall, crime in the city of Philadelphia is down,” Johnson said. “It’s a little frustrating at times that the entire department is judged on the basis of one crime, murder.” Though Philadelphia recorded the highest murder rate among the nation’s top 10 cities last year – CNN last week broadcast a segment on homicides that featured “Killadelphia” – it was not the nation’s deadliest city last year. Among cities with populations of 100,000 or more, Detroit; Baltimore; Washington; Oakland; New Orleans; St. Louis; Cincinnati; Newark, Birmingham, Al.; Richmond, Va.; Little Rock; Kansas City, Mo.; Flint, Mi.; Inglewood, Ca.; and Gary, In., recorded higher murder rates last year than Philadelphia.