Crime data outdated in Evans TV ad

State Rep. Dwight Evans in one of his earlier TV commercials.

State Rep. Dwight Evans' latest television ad quotes a news report saying his legislative district is "the only area of the city where shootings are down."

Evans has boasted of this decline throughout his mayoral campaign, attributing it to his revitalization efforts in the West Oak Lane section.

But his crime statistics are out of date. In fact, shootings are up this year in the two police districts that patrol Evans' neighborhood.

As of Monday, 25 people have been victims of shootings this year in the 14th Police District, up from 21 during the same period last year. And there have been 25 shooting victims in the 35th Police District, compared with 24 by this time last year.

The area has also seen a jump in homicides, with 18 in the 14th and 35th districts so far this year, compared with 10 during that time frame last year.

The 14th District is headquartered at Haines Street and Germantown Avenue; the 35th at Broad Street and Champlost Avenue.

Evans said his information came from a June 2006 Inquirer story that looked at shootings in the first half of 2006 vs. the first half of 2005.

That article showed that in the Northwest Division - which includes the 14th and the 35th districts - there were fewer shootings in the 2006 period than in 2005.

The quotation in Evans' ad comes from a Daily News column published last July that referred to the same data.

While Evans said he was aware of the recent increase in crime in his neighborhood, he made no promise to stop referring to the outdated report.

He did say that as mayor he would try to combat the rise in crime across the city.

"My specific reason for running is to make Philadelphia the safest big city in America," he said. "It is to be expected that trends in murders and shootings are going up."

Evans also said the fact that his district showed a drop in shootings in 2006 proves that he has made a positive impact.

"I use [West Oak Lane] as a basis and a model to say to people, as a result of this model we created a safer environment," he said.

Crime prevention has been a focus of Evans' 27-year legislative career.

Last fall he held a series of straw sessions in the state House on gun violence. In 1997 he was part of a group of legislators who pushed then Mayor Ed Rendell for new police leadership in Philadelphia - a move that ultimately led to the hiring of former commissioner John Timoney.

"I'm trying to find a way to address these issues throughout the city," Evans said. "This is a public-health epidemic." *