Gun crime in Philly takes a big dip

August 21, 2008 8:40:15 PM PDT
Crime stories in the media, including here, may obscure the fact that the incidence of gun crime is down in Philadelphia. In fact, the numbers are pretty impressive. Police Commissioner Chuck Ramsey points to a number of things that he believes have helped to begin to turn things around in Philadelphia.

"Quite frankly, I don't think we really had the kind of control that we should have had and we're working very hard to re-establish that and get people off the street that are really causing harm in these communities," said the commissioner.

Nearing the end of the summer in the 8th month of Police Commissioner Chuck Ramsey's administration, the city is seeing some impressive numbers in the fight against crime. As of this date, murders are down 22-percent and shootings across the city are down 18-percent - numbers that are within striking distance of Mayor Michael Nutter's goal of reducing crime for the year by 25-percent.

Ramsey tells us, "Hopefully we can sustain that through the rest of the year and then have more ambitious goals for next year."

Saying that he needed fewer specialists and more officers on the street, Ramsey early on dismantled a number of units established by his predecessor to make that happen. The department also implemented a number of proactive maneuvers in combating crime, including a controversial stop and frisk approach of suspicious people in neighborhoods. Along with the SWAT team, DEA, and U.S. Marshals, they also have conducted a number of sweeps through neighborhoods looking for illegal drugs and weapons and taking violent criminals off the streets.

"I think the sweeps help and we're gonna do more, we're gonna continue to do those things. Drugs are the root of a lot of our problems and we're gonna stay very aggressive when we're dealing with drug problems," explained Ramsey.

Although the commissioner says he's pleased with the crime reduction numbers, he is not satisfied and he points to other factors beyond his department that need to be addressed.

"If you want long term solutions you have to start looking at things like education and job opportunities and things like that for our young people. But in the meantime, we've got to do everything we can to take control of our streets."

One other important factor Commissioner Ramsey points to is the bond between police and community organizations, which have provided invaluable source information on who, where and how crime is being committed. A factor that is putting a huge dent in the "don't snitch mentality".

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