Newly inaugurated Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is aiming to reduce the city’s homicide rate by 30 to 50 percent in the next few years, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Last year’s tally of 392 homicides translates into a rate of 27 per 100,000 residents. A 50 percent reduction would amount to fewer than 14 per 100,000 residents. The last time the city had a rate that low was in 1969. A 30 percent reduction, to 18.9 homicides per 100,000 residents, would match the level of just six years ago, in 2002, when there were 288 murders.
“Anything is doable, but it’s going to take the collective efforts of a lot of people to make it happen,” said new Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Over the nine years that Ramsey was police chief in Washington, D.C., the homicide rate in that city fell by 49 percent. Washingtonians were more than twice as likely to be killed in the years before Ramsey took over as Philadelphians were in this city’s most murderous year, 1990. “We got numbers down in D.C., but it really takes a strong, sustained effort,” Ramsey said. “You have to be relentless when you go after people who are causing harm in the community.” Nutter, fulfilling a campaign promise, declared a crime emergency with his first executive order. The order gave police no additional powers but required Ramsey to devise a crime-fighting plan by Jan. 30. Ramsey vowed more aggressive action, including “enhanced patrols” and increased stop-and-frisk actions against those suspected of carrying illegal weapons.