Philadelphia reported one of the worst increases in homicides among major cities last year, the new FBI crime summary says. Of the largest cities, only Houston saw a bigger increase, while many other cities, such as New York, saw decreases, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Violence in Philadelphia continues to escalate. As of last week, there were 803 shooting victims this year, compared with 697 for the same period last year – a 15.2 percent increase.
Lawrence W. Sherman, a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed out that the nearly 17,000 slayings last year in the U.S. far exceeds the combined death tolls of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and American military casualties in Iraq. “Why aren’t we talking about these deaths, and how they could be prevented? Why isn’t the reality of daily terrorism on the streets of our cities worth as much attention as the possibility of international violence?” asked Sherman, director of Penn’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology. “The tragedy for Philadelphia is that it did not enjoy the stable homicide rate of most cities over one million people.” He recommended the city include adults in antiviolence programs that have been effective for some juveniles. “Kids get used to growing up in an environment where [shootings] happen a lot,” said criminologist Jeffrey Roth of the Jerry Lee Center, “and then they don’t think twice about doing that.” Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson is forming a special 46-member unit that will attempt to stem the number of shootings that occur during the deadliest overnight hours.