Philadelphia police say crime is down in many rough areas, thanks to crime-fighting strategies and particularly a network of foot patrols that were put in place last year in the most dangerous places, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. A Temple University study identifies 60 hot spots as the city’s highest-volume crime areas. Police used the analysis to assign 200 officers to foot patrols across the city. That number has changed as captains have shifted the patrols depending on each district’s needs and the number of officers available at a given time.
Temple’s study, which covered three months, showed a 22 percent drop in crime in areas covered by the foot patrols. Arrests were up 13 percent. As in other major cities, crime has been on a decline in Philadelphia. Violent crime – down in all but three districts – dropped 7 percent citywide in 2009 compared with 2007, with homicide down 23 percent and aggravated assault down 4 percent. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey believes the foot beats – six- to 10-block areas instead of the traditional 20 blocks – are a crucial piece in keeping crime on the downswing. “Foot patrol is one of those ideas that, in some people’s minds is a feel-good thing,” he said, “but if it’s sustained, and if it’s done intelligently, it can be effective. We set out to show that.” Some criminologists downplay the effectiveness of foot patrols, which can be seen, especially by officers, as preventive and not very exciting. On a typical day, an officer may return a truant teenager to school, break up loiterers, or stop a car with expired tags. Officers cover the same territory day after day so they can get to know people on the beat, hoping those people will pass on information when crimes occur.