After four years of increases, reported violent crimes in Philadelphia were down 8 percent as of Sunday, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Homicides were 1 percent behind the figure for the same period last year; 2006’s total was the highest in nine years. Shootings were down 14 percent. Robberies with a gun were down 12 percent. Should trends continue for the last three weeks of the year, Michael Nutter is likely to take office as mayor Jan. 7 with violent crime substantially lower than it was during the heat of the mayoral primary in the spring. He has promised to declare a crime emergency on his first day in office and employ a more aggressive law enforcement strategy.
Nutter said that the numbers were encouraging, and that his new police commissioner, Charles Ramsey, would analyze the trends and respond accordingly. “I’m glad to hear things are moving in the right direction,” he said. “But there’s still too much crime.” He suggested that the intense public debate about crime during the political campaign had something to do with the drop. “By bringing attention to it, it has helped to sharpen the focus of the police and the administration,” he said. The homicide tally is still far greater than it was when Mayor John Street entered office in 2000: The city recorded 319 killings that year; this year the number is on a pace to come in slightly below last year’s 406, the most since 1997. Violent crime – homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults – might amount to a smaller number than the 22,812 that were recorded in Street’s first year in office. As of Sunday, police had recorded 19,526 violent crimes.