San Diego, CA, a city of 1.3 million residents, witnessed 12 firearm related homicides in 2010, and 22 in 2009. During those same years, the city of Philadelphia – just 200,000 residents larger than San Diego – experienced 265 and 244 such crimes. The direct costs to the city of Philadelphia related to homicide in 2010 and 2009 totaled $1.325 and $1.22 billion.
A study organized by the Police Executive Research Forum presents these and many other astounding statistics regarding trends and costs gun violence. The research consists of a national survey of police departments, and case studies of six North American cities; Minneapolis, Milwuakee, Austin, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Toronto. The national survey reveals that gun-related homicides, robberies and aggravated assaults are all down from 2008 to 2011.
These trends hold true for the city of Philadelphia, but the rates of violent gun crime – especially homicide – are still above the national
Scrolling through the slides of the presentation prepared for a national conference of police chiefs in Washington D.C. last April, Philadelphia clearly stands out as the community most affected by gun violence. However, there is very little in the report about the underlying causes of the crime.
Erica Goode of the New York Times commented that:
If there was a central message to be drawn from the survey, it was that gun violence is tightly concentrated in the poorest urban neighborhoods, its victims mostly minorities, who receive little attention from politicians and the news media.
Although the tragedy of gun violence is felt most intensely in those communities where it takes place, the economic consequences are endured by the entire city of Philadelphia. According to the standards used in the calculations of this study, a murder costs the city $5 million, an armed robbery $50,000, an aggravated assault $55,000, and any other gun-related crime $500. Considering the volume of violent gun-related crime, and the financial cost of each individual incident to the community, the $3.7 billion annual total cost of violent crime in Philadelphia that was referenced in yesterday’s post is slightly more tangible.