In a meeting this morning with the Inquirer and Daily News editorial boards, Mayor Nutter hailed the continued decline in crime across the city, drawing particular attention to the precipitous drop in homicides in the first quarter of 2013.
Nutter, who was joined by police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, cautioned that “a quarter does not make a year,” but noted the trends over his first five years in office have been good.
“Everything is generally in comparison to previous year, previous couple years, trends,” he said. “The first quarter of this year was pretty significantly better than the first quarter of last year, and last year was a disaster.”
Last year began with a violent three months, Nutter said, and the police spent the “spent the rest of the year trying to recover.” By the end of 2012, the total number of homicides was just slightly higher than 2011.
Through March of 2012, the city logged 89 homicides; through March of this year, the city had only 54 homicides.
Typically, more violent crime happens in the warmer months, April through October, which is a reason to temper enthusiasm from the early results. In fact, there has been a slight uptick in homicides this month – the total now sits at 72.
“All of the trend lines are certainly moving in the right direction,” Nutter said. “Not enough. Nowhere near enough, but at least going in the right direction.”
Nutter also noted that non-fatal shootings dropped considerably last year, and he blamed the steady number of homicides on an increase in “lethality” – shooters firing numerous shots and more victims suffering head wounds.
The mayor lamented that, unlike New York City, Philadelphia doesn’t have the authority to pass its own gun laws, and new gun legislation is unlikely to pass the state government.
“We need tougher gun regulations in this city and in this state. There’s no getting around that, and I’m not the problem there. I was sued by the NRA on my 100th day as mayor because we had the audacity to pass legislation on assault weapons and lost and stolen (guns) and a bunch of other things,” Nutter said.
“You might want to call the governor and ask him what does he think about the fact that … half of the murders in this state are in this city,” he said. “Don’t you think they might need some help down there?”
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