2012 homicide numbers alarm police

PHILADELPHIA - December 31, 2012

In Camden this past weekend, a vigil was held for the record number 67 murder victims.

It was 16 more than last year.

The vigil's organizer, Sister Helen Cole of Guadalupe Family Services, thinks the publicized cut in the police manpower embolden violent criminals.

"In the past, they have been lawless, now they are fearless because they know there's not police out on the streets and the presence there used to be," Cole said.

Cole said some Camden drug dealers even wore t-shirts "that proclaimed the streets are mine."

In Philadelphia, the homicide rate was up slightly compared to last year, but in an odd twist fewer people were shot, but among those who were, the attacks were deadlier.

"Fewer shooting victims, higher mortality rates, but more people shot multiple times," Philadelphia Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

They were fewer, but deadlier attacks.

In 2011, 1,408 reported shootings.

As of this morning, the number was 1,278; an 8 percent drop.

But deaths were up, 324 for 2011, 329 for 2012.

Officials point to more powerful weapons with more ammo capacity in the hands of criminals that are making things deadlier.

"You have all these bullets flying down the street, may or may not hit the intended target, can hit innocent people, as well," Ramsey said.

Only a small percentage of people are prone to using guns criminally.

With that in mind, when a felon is picked up carrying a gun the DA now asks for high bail.

"Every time a defendant is arrested in the City of Philadelphia for merely the illegal possession of a handgun, we're asking for $25,000 to $100,000. Since we instituted that 73% have remained in custody," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said.

The hope is that will slow the pace of violent crime in Philadelphia.

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