Waiting to see if rising homicide rate reverses crime trend in Philadelphia

Homicide statistics are standard fare for at the New Year. Every January, cities are ranked as more or less dangerous depending on murder rates.  For 2011, Philadelphia had the highest homicide rate of the ten largest cities in the country.   Despite the increase and the economy, Philadelphia, like the country at large, has experienced a reduction in crime over the past several years.

Homicides went up seven percent in Philadelphia in 2011, but the bigger picture is that violent crime rates have dropped significantly since the 1990’s across the country. According to John MacDonald, Professor of Criminology of the University of Pennsylvania, today’s crime rates are closer to 1960’s levels in major cities such as Philadelphia. MacDonald says strategic policing affect crime rates more than economics year to year.  

“It’s not like the economy got a lot better in Philadelphia between 2006 and 2011,” said MacDonald, “but between 2006 and 2010 the homicide rate, serious violent crime rate went down a lot in the city. And I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the changes in policing.”

MacDonald says it is too early to know if the 2011 increase in homicides is the beginning of a trend. Overall, homicide in the region is on the decline. According to the Washington Post, Baltimore and Washington D.C., have seen the lowest murder rates in decades this year.  Camden, New Jersey, which had to lay off police last year, saw a jump in violent crime.  

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