Violent crime is down in Philly, but shootings and homicides are up

Kristen Johanson
December 30, 2018 - 11:58 am

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Violent crime in Philadelphia is down according to city statistics, but shootings are up about 15 percent, and homicides will break a decade-old record. The city's top cop is laser-focused on gun violence in the new year.

Nearly 1,400 people have been shot in Philadelphia in 2018.

"It's a source of frustration for just about anybody in this department, particularly the commanders who have to deal with this each and everyday," said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. 

That's up a few hundred from last year.  

Ross points to poverty as one factor.

"People trapped and who feel hopeless because of a lack of opportunity and that confluence of guns doesn't go together," he said.

Overall, violent crime is slightly down, but vehicle thefts are up nearly 10 percent, as well as burglaries and robberies. The department has now filled empty spots in police districts, about 20 cops to each, to help combat the numbers.  

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"We will leave no stone unturned in what we do. That includes working with groups that the methodology may appear unconventional," he said, including turning to ex-offenders to help vulnerable youth stay on the right track. 

"When you deal with addiction, who tends to be the addiction counselors? People who often times have been there. Their words resonate the most. And in this case, there are instances where some of these folks who are still incarcerated, still have a connection back to their relative neighborhoods, and some of them want to actually make a difference," Ross explained.   

He is focused on continuing to improve their intelligence-led policing tactics, "like hot spot policing and we want to get more into our predictive analysis," he said. 

The department also has more feet on the ground now than in the past few years, but they need the community to call when they hear of neighborhood disputes or retaliation brewing. 

"It's just like picking up a phone and saying, 'I heard this,' and just like we ask you to do with terrorism, and people don't seem to have a problem with that," Ross said.  

Ross says department numbers show more people are being prosecuted for violent crimes, though they don't have the information on the severity of charges filed.