Featherman: Philly murders still too high regardless of Trump, Kenney claims

John Featherman is a real estate broker and Republican with libertarian leanings who writes about politics.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump said: “Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady, I mean, just terribly increasing.”

Mayor Jim Kenney responded by claiming, “Our homicides are, in fact, slowly declining ...” Kenney also claimed, “It’s fake facts, he has a propensity to do it, he doesn’t care about the truth.”

So who’s telling the truth?

Well, one thing is clear. The city's level of homicide is unacceptable, and, with ideal timing, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board said today that “In Philadelphia, it is business as usual.”

Let's look at the numbers.

WHAT’S TRUE IN TRUMP’S STATEMENT:  Well, in the short term, the raw number of murders is up so far this year.  In fact, the number of murders in January stand at 27.  That reflects a 37% increase compared to the same time period last year, according to the Philadelphia Police Department’s crime map statistics.

Moreover, it marks the deadliest January in five years. That's worrying.

However, less than one month is hardly a gauge for the year.  The number of homicides could drop sharply next month.

WHAT’S TRUE IN KENNEY’S STATEMENT: Homicides have been on the decline in Philadelphia over the past 4 calendar years (2013-2016), never eclipsing the 300 person mark annually. In the 4 preceding years (2009-2012), there were more than 300 persons murdered annually, again, according to the crime mapper.

U-TURN’S CONCLUSION:  Trump’s claim could be true in the very short term. Kenney’s are true over the longer term.

But, as I said, the killing of 300 people each year in city streets is still unacceptable - statistics be damned.