Officials consider relationship between weather and reduced rate of homicide

Philadelphia City Hall, March, 2013. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Jim MacMillan

Philadelphia City Hall, March, 2013. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Jim MacMillan

On Friday, the Philadelphia Daily News reported a 39 percent year-to-date drop in homicides across the city, based on Philadelphia Police statistics.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, but he noted that it might be a “little early” to project whether the improved rate can be maintained. “We haven’t hit the warm weather yet,” he said.

During a presentation at the University of Pennsylvania Law School last fall, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams noted that Philadelphia weather was unusually warm in early 2012 – when the city suffered an unusually high rate of more than one murder per day – and attributed both aberrations to what he called the “ecology of crime.”

Local social worker and writer Jeff Deeney pointed out in the Daily Beast that city officials were touting steep reductions in homicides and other violent crime during that winter – just before the temperatures and homicides spiked.

So far in 2013, Phillyweather.net has reported below-average temperatures in February, the coldest March since 2005, and the coolest start to April since 1992.

National Weather Service data shows that Philadelphia’s 41.2-degree average daily high temperature in March 2013 came in 10 degrees below the March 2012 average of 52.2 degrees.

So, what happens when it gets warmer?

After a brief outbreak of warm weather on Friday – with sunny skies and a high of 65 degrees in Philadelphia – three men were critically wounded in separate overnight shootings across the city.

Let’s hope we can avoid the levels of gun violence we experienced in Philadelphia last summer:

Please share you ideas to stop the shooting with our community by using the #phillypeaceplan hash tag when communicating on social media: http://guncrisis.org/phillypeaceplan/

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