Fewer people have been murdered in Philadelphia this year than at any time in almost a half-century, reflecting a trend in big cities, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. The city appears poised to end 2013 with about 250 slayings, the fewest since 1967. Barring a new burst of violence, the final tally should see 80 fewer deaths compared with 2012, an unprecedented 24 percent fall. Mayor Michael Nutter, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and District Attorney Seth Williams say the reduction reflects a sustained commitment to a crime-fighting plan that combined data-driven law enforcement and old-school, shoe-leather police work.
The plan targets gun criminals and the most violent neighborhood “hot spots.” Officials say the murder drop also reflects court reforms to make sure more cases go to trial. “Anyone who tells you it’s one thing doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Nutter said. The key, he added, was “a consistent, regular focus” on a strategy. The drop this year is part of a downward trend in homicide in most big cities. Eight of the 10 largest U.S. cities have lower murder numbers for 2013 than the previous year, with an average reduction of 15.9 percent, ABC News reports. The overall decline in crime in Philadelphia has been across the board. Both violent and nonviolent offenses are down for the year. Shootings are down 15 percent.