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Editorial | Crime in Philadelphia

Nutter and Ramsey must do better

New York City, with a population of more than eight million people, expects to end the year with fewer than 500 murders. That will be about 100 less than last year.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia, with a population under 1.5 million, hopes to close out 2007 with fewer than 400 murders, which would be about the same as last year.

What gives?

Granted, Philadelphia's violent crime is down 8 percent in 2007 from last year. But on a per-capita basis, the city's crime rate remains extremely high when compared to other big cities. The Big Apple, for example, is on pace to end 2007 with its fewest murders in more than 40 years.

New York has set the standard for big-city crime fighting for more than a decade. The NYPD has used an effective two-pronged strategy: Cops aggressively crack down on petty crimes, even panhandling and public urination, in the belief that it prevents bigger crimes.

New York also effectively uses its mapping system to track where crimes occur, then floods those areas with more officers.

New York's approach is pro-active and keeps the pressure on bad guys. Now, that city is turning up the heat another notch.

Not satisfied with already historically low crime rates, New York's mayor and police commissioner are working to drive down crime even further by teaming all 914 of the NYPD's new recruits with veteran cops for deployment to areas of the city where crime still persists.

New York's relentless efforts stand in stark contrast to Philadelphia's lackadaisical approach under Mayor Street and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson. As murders piled up this year, Johnson's message too often was:

Gee, crime happens, and police are helpless to stop it


New York's crime-fighting strategy has proven its worth before in this city. Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney, a product of the NYPD, implemented similar systems here that reduced crime during his tenure.

Mayor-elect Michael Nutter has made fighting crime a top priority. To be effective, he must consider the size of the city's police force and how officers are deployed.

Nutter has already made one good move by tapping as his new commissioner Charles Ramsey, who had an excellent track record during his nine years as police chief in Washington.

Philadelphians have good reason to expect better results by their Police Department in 2008.