Mayor Nutter looked back on 2014 Monday, touting a drop in Philadelphia's crime rate but also acknowledging the delicate relationship between law enforcement and the community in a year when nationwide, tensions mounted.
In a 20-minute news conference that offered a statistical report card of the year, Nutter praised law enforcement and in blunt terms cautioned citizens against provoking police.
"If you shoot a police officer . . . they're going to shoot back; it's their job," Nutter said. "Their first duty is to protect themselves and the citizens of this city, so my recommendation is, don't shoot at the police. Don't fight with the police."
Nutter had sharply criticized prosecutors investigating Michael Brown's August death in Ferguson, Mo., saying, "They have botched this entire tragedy." Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, whom a grand jury chose not to indict.
On Monday, Nutter thanked Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, police union leader John McNesby, and firefighters' union head Joe Schuley, as well as uniformed officers and antiviolence community groups, praising their trust-building work in Philadelphia.
"There has to be an understanding between community members who have serious, legitimate concerns . . . about how they'd like to be treated by the police, and at the same time the officers out there doing their job, who want to be able to go home to their families," Nutter said.
"They're risking their lives, and they want some level of respect and appreciation for the hard work that they're doing out on the streets every day."
Nutter said four people were killed in police-involved incidents in Philadelphia last year. Three were found in possession of a weapon; the fourth started fighting with officers.
In 2013, 12 people were killed by police, he said.
Seven officers have died in the line of duty in the last seven years, Nutter said.
There were 247 homicides in Philadelphia in 2014 and 391 in 2006, a 37 percent drop, Nutter said. Violent crimes are down 25 percent and shootings 34 percent over the same period, Nutter said.
Several other major cities, including New York and Chicago, have experienced similar dips.
Shootings are at the lowest number since the department started calculating them, Nutter said.
"The difference between a shooting and a homicide, unfortunately, is sometimes just aim," he said, "or, more importantly, excellent medical attention."