Monday, January 1, 2007

Confetti and bullet cases lying together on the streets

Happy New Year from Gzo87e!

Hopefully the murder rate in Philadelphia goes down in 2007. In 2006, we had 406 homicides, up 27 from 2005. This article discusses the violence, and although it mentions that Philadelphia tried to target "Hot Spots" and failed, an article in the November 2006 Philadelphia magazine implies the reason it was not successful was because the police didn't target people carrying guns. To quote from page 174:
[Criminologist Lawrence Sherman's] hypothesis was that police officers, by aggressively enforcing laws against carrying concealed weapons at crime "hot spots" such as drug corners and nuisance bars, would discourage people from carrying guns, and that this decrease in gun-carrying would lead to fewer gun crimes. This was a great departure from the standard model of rapid response and random patrol.

The theory was that if people had to go somewhere to get their gun and had time to cool off, less people would be shot. Even a walk to a car would give people time to settle down, presumably. It had worked in other cities and municipalities, including New York, although the article does concede that New York had other things in its favor - "declining crack use, a flourishing economy, demographic shifts as immigrants and yuppies moved into once dangerous neighborhoods," etc.

Other reasons are the lack of accountability in Philadelphia that other cities have with their officers and precinct chiefs, as well as the fact that surplus officers are simply being used to handle the backlog of 911 calls. The moral of the story is that things as they are now are not working, and the politicians and police need to get together and figure out some new ideas, or work to fix the problems of the old ones. In a city as corrupt and decaying as Philadelphia, that may be an insurmountable challenge.

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