Trump Was Wrong on Philadelphia, Chicago Murders

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President Trump was wrong when he said yesterday that Philadelphia’s murder rate has been “steady, I mean, just terribly increasing,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Visiting the city for a meeting with Republicans, Trump singled out Philadelphia when he commented that in the nation’s 30 largest cities, “In the last year alone, the murder rate has increased by an estimated 14 percent.” The most accurate interpretation of his remarks about Philadelphia would be to say the murder rate last year was steady, says the Inquirer. In 2015, the murder rate was about 17.86 per 100,000 residents; In 2016, it was about 17.41 per 100,000 residents. Mayor Jim Kenney called Trump a purveyor of “fake facts”

Although 2015 and 2016 had higher murder rates than 2013 and 2014, the earlier two years had the lowest murder rates the city had seen in decades. Annual murder totals have also not been increasing. In 2016, the city had 277 homicides, compared with 280 a year earlier. While 2013 and 2014 had lower totals, all four years have been historically low compared with previous decades, when murder totals almost always topped 300, and in 1990 reached 500. The city has had an unusually deadly January. As of 12:01 a.m. yesterday, the city had recorded 27 homicides. That is the highest total since 2012.  “We never look at short-term trends in homicide because it’s difficult to intepret,” said Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University. “Anybody sensible steers clear [of] trying to put an interpretation on figures when they’re that small.” (Trump also told ABC News this week that two people were fatally shot in Chicago while President Obama was giving his farewell speech in Chicago, a claim shown to be false by police department records, reports the Chicago Tribune.)

 

 

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