Murder Mystery: Why Is NYC’s Rate Below Philly’s?


As Philadelphia wrestles with an upsurge in killings, statistics show that New York City residents are three times less likely to be murdered, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Why Philadelphia, along with most other U.S. cities, has been unable to replicate New York’s record of cutting murders by 69 percent since 1993 is a matter of debate. New York police cite the end of the crack epidemic, a sharp increase in the department’s size during the 1990s, the use of a system called CompStat to track and respond to crime trends, and a recent tactic that floods high-violence areas with new police academy graduates. Criminologists cite intensive neighborhood redevelopment and New York’s stricter gun-control laws., while adding that the range of variables makes a definitive answer next to impossible. Other cities have expanded their police forces and adopted CompStat but have not seen the same results.

New York City’s police force has 38,000 uniformed officers compared with Philadelphia’s 6,900, which allows for crime-fighting strategies lacking in smaller communities. However, the number of officers per resident in Philadelphia and New York is nearly identical. Experts don’t doubt the impact of New York City’s aggressive policing. But “that certainly isn’t the whole picture,” said criminologist Ralph Curtis, a resident of New York’s Brownsville section, where murders dropped 82 percent in a decade. “The neighborhoods where the problem was the worst… have been completely redeveloped,” he said. “It’s made such a difference, I can’t tell you.”


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