The current administration argues that the city is safer. It's true that we had 86 murders this time in 2007 but we are up from 43 this date in 2013. It's true that today's 54 murders is down from the 86 we had in 2007. However, murders have risen from the 43 on this date in 2013. Jeremy Nowak posted a good review of the problem earlier this month in the Philadelphia Citizen.
Philadelphians respond, "We aren't New York City!" So true. NYC provides action. We provide excuses. Starting with Mayor Dinkins, every single NYC mayor has worked loudly and effectively to bring down their crime, both by funding their police force and hiring police chiefs who have the refreshing idea that they can PREVENT crime. As a result, their prison population is down and they have many fewer murderers to arrest, process, try and jail. That saves lives as well as money.
The answer in Philadelphia is not more review boards. They clean up after the fact. We need the kind of policing that gets on the front side. Police Chief Ramsey has tried it with focused deterrence in South Philadelphia to good success. When I was mugged in that neighborhood last year, the cops I spoke to at the time were high on the program and only upset that it wasn't being instituted in the neighborhoods they were raising THEIR children. If it works, why not expand it throughout the city?
Of the candidates who go into any specifics about crime on their websites Jim Kenney is the most comprehensive and he specifically endorses focused deterrence as well as other measures.
Nelson Diaz is for "community policing" with no concrete details though he does offer the ever-popular and ever-futile denunciation of Harrisburg-gun laws. I'm feeling safer already.
Lynne Abraham's tough-cookie website lists no issues though she will lead with "grit".
While Doug Oliver vaporously suggests we "harken back" to the days that "neighbor knew your parent and cared about your wellbeing", he also promotes "proper funding" of the police force.
At first, I couldn't get past the huge "DONATE" tab on Anthony Hardy Williams' website but finally made it to his public safety issues page which touts his work in Harrisburg on Gun control (we know how that's turned out), pretty-sounding anti-violence programs and "additional training and increased resources" so law enforcement reflects community values and demographics. Nothing about training that might bring down crime.
T. Milton Street's mayoral website apparently does not reside online and his Facebook page features an article in which he compares Himself to Moses.
From now until election day, we can expect another 3 dozen murders. Let's hope that in that time the candidates find their voices on crime and that this time next year many fewer Philadelphians will be on the police department's list of crime statistics.