The number of Philadelphia slayings for 2007 fell below 400, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Despite the drop, Philadelphia’s homicide rate – the number of people killed per 100,000 population – still tops the list of the nation’s 10 largest cities. New York recorded its lowest homicide total in 44 years with fewer than 500 slayings. Philadelphia’s rate was below that in smaller metropolitan cities, such as Detroit, Baltimore, and Camden, where homicide remains a persistent problem.
Noting that violent crime in Philadelphia overall is down about 9 percent, Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the city was headed in the right direction. The city increased patrols through new hires, and initiatives such as the creation of curfew centers appeared to be having an impact, he said. Bilal Qayyum of Men United for a Better Philadelphia is optimistic about the coming year. “It’s not only the homicide rate is down  but the shootings are down,” he said. The majority of victims and perpetrators in Philadelphia shootings last year had criminal records. That knowledge should spur officials to put in place mechanisms for helping people once they leave prison, he said. There are no simple explanations as to why one city’s homicide rate is higher than another’s, but the statistics in Philadelphia, at least, paint a picture of a city where people turn to guns to settle disputes.