Crime-fighting the last eight years appears on paper to be a success for Mayor Nutter. But community policing, officer-involved shootings, and rising costs linger.
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The Big Picture
The Big Picture
The number of major crimes has gone down for more than a decade and it appears the decline will continue.
Details: Almost every category of major crime -- homicide, robbery, assault, theft and motor vehicle theft -- is down by double digits. The exception is rape, which remains fairly steady, with 800 to 1,000 rapes reported each year.
Overall, major crime (called Part One Crime by the FBI) is down nearly 30 percent since 2000. There were 97,697 reported in that year, compared to 69,304 in 2014.
The number of homicides has declined from a high of 406 in 2006 to 253 last year. (The 2014 figures are still preliminary.)
Motor vehicle theft has taken the biggest percentage drop: there were 16,165 car and vehicle thefts reported in 2000, compared to 6,100 in 2014, a 62 percent decline.
These are significant decreases.
Why the drop in crime? Depends on who you ask. We do know that Philadelphia is part of a national big-city trend of decline in crime that has been underway for a decade. Law enforcement officials say it is partly due to improved policing -- smarter and more extensive use of data allows them to target offenders and neighborhoods. Improved training of police is given as a cause as well.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who was hired by Mayor Nutter in 2008, gets a high approval rating in most public polls about city issues.
The police never use the phrase. They say they only stop when an officer has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. However, that is disputed by legal advocates, such as the ACLU. In 2008, the police made more than 200,000 pedestrian stops and the ACLU says data shows that 37 percent were made without reasonable suspicion. Eighty percent of those stopped were members of minority groups.
Mayor Nutter is a supporter of stop and frisk as a way to lessen the number of guns on the streets -- and there has been a decline in gun-related crime.
The next mayor will have to decide whether to continue or halt the current practices. Ramsey is a supporter of stop and frisk.
The High Cost of Policing
It costs a lot to put a cop on the streets. Police officers make an average of $66,393 a year, a figure which does not include the costs of overtime, fringe benefits and training.
There are 6,600 uniformed officers in the city, a number which includes everyone from police cadets up to Commissioner Ramsey. The department also had 753 civilians employees as of January 2015.
Salaries of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents nearly all men and women in uniform, are due to rise 9.5 percent between now and 2017, the year the FOP's current contract expires.
The department's budget will total $685 million this year, the highest of any department in city government.
Maintaining an adequately staffed department -- and paying for it -- will remain a challenge for whoever is elected, though most mayors have been resolute about funding the department to keep the feet on the street.
The next mayor will have to decide if he or she will continue the stop-and-frisk policy. Several candidates have already said it is time to alter or halt the procedure, saying it unfairly targets minorities and increases resentment of police in the neighborhoods. This is an issue that will not go away.
Nor will the controversy over officers involved in shooting suspects. Every incident has the potential to inflame and the department is currently under review by the U.S. Department of Justice. The settlement of wrongful arrest or injury suits targeting police also can amount to millions of dollars a year.