Philly homicide rate climbs slightly, but still under 300

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 (NewsWorks file photo)

(NewsWorks file photo)

Barring a big uptick in violence, Philadelphia will record fewer than 300 homicides this year.

That would make 2015 the third straight year that’s happened, though city officials and those working to halt violence are far from satisfied.

 “We need to stop shooting each other, killing each other, stabbing each other, on the streets of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.

As of Wednesday, Philadelphia police have recorded 269 killings.

That total is higher than 2014 and 2013, which each ended with fewer than 250 slayings – historic lows.

From 2007 to 2012, Philadelphia had at least 300 homicides a year.

In 2007, there were 391.

“We have a reduction in homicides in the city, however, to place 300 as the number that we’re happy we’re below, I still have a problem with because 300 families, 300 individuals lost their life to senseless violence,” said Dorothy Johnson-Speight, who heads Mothers in Charge.

Scott Charles, trauma outreach coordinator with Temple University Hospital, said the recent downswing is encouraging, but not cause for celebration considering the city’s more violent past, particularly the 1990s, when police routinely recorded 400 killings or more.

“We’ve become somewhat inured to the level of violence. So by comparison, 247 or, if by the end of the year, we have something near 270 homicides, it still seems like progress,” said Charles.

Johnson-Speight said things won’t significantly change until a number of underlying issues are addressed, including poverty, anger management and mental health.

“With that, and the availability of guns in our city and cities across this country, that makes for the situations that we see,” she said.

Outgoing Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, widely applauded for helping to decrease crime in the city, could not be reached for comment.

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