Philly violent crime rate below first half of ’13

Philadelphia garnered national attention last year when the number of homicides in the city dropped to a 46-year low, and all other violent crimes fell along with it.

As the first half of this year draws to a close, that trend is continuing.

Police reported 7,174 violent crimes from Jan. 1 to June 22, a decrease of 8 percent from the same period in 2013. The number of homicides is also down slightly: There were 112 slayings as of June 26, compared with 115 that time last year.

“It’s certainly good news,” said Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA. “But I think, obviously, the 112 homicide victims that we have so far, those 112 families and all the communities they leave behind would say this is too many.”

Jerry Ratcliffe, a criminal justice professor at Temple University, attributes part of the police department’s success in recent years to its growing use of data. Ratcliffe and his colleagues have been working closely with city police to develop crime-fighting strategies.

“We’ve noticed a definite and significant shift toward more strategic crime prevention,” he said.

While Ratcliffe called the crime figures in 2014 “positive news,” he also cautioned that the summertime often brings increased violence in parts of Philadelphia.

A spokesman for Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he would not comment on the crime statistics until next week.

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