Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney challenges departing Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson’s assertion that Philadelphia is not “an unsafe city.” Says Kinney: “Yes, there were 1,904 fewer violent crimes in 2007 than in 2006. But thugs still committed 20,602 of them last year.” Michael Nutter, who takes office today as mayor, and incoming Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey read the data differently, with an eye more toward practical math. Nutter intends to declare a crime emergency in parts of the city ASAP, Kinney says, sharing the outrage of the masses who think even 392 murders are way too many.
Another Inquirer story says that Nutter has backed off his pledge to declare a crime emergency on his first day in office. He says the decision will be left to Ramsey. City Hall veterans think that so long as Ramsey moves quickly to shake up the Police Department, residents will give the administration months, if not years, to reduce violent crime, which has been falling. “I think the people in Philadelphia know that crime is not going to be solved with a stroke of a pen or something like that,” Councilwoman Marian Tasco said.