Camden, NJ, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, suffered the deadliest year in the city’s history in 2012, with 67 homicides. With a population of only 77,000, the per capita homicide rate was 87 per 100,000 residents, more than four times greater than in Philadelphia.
Earlier in 2012, FBI data indicated that Camden led the nation in violent crime per capita, for cities with populations great that 50,000 in 2011. And today, a post at a Facebook group called “Camden: Stop the Trauma, Violence and Murder” counted the city’s 30th homicide of 2013.
But there is good news too. Violent crime has dropped dramatically in cities across the U.S. this year, and Camden looks like no exception. At this year’s pace, Camden can hope to see fewer than 50 homicides in 2103, which would result in a drop of more than 25 percent, when compared to 2013.
This would lower the per capita homicide rate to 65 per 100,000 citizens, indicating a year of remarkable progress, albeit with much more work to do.
In Philadelphia, homicides are down nearly by 30 percent this year, according to phillypolice.com, and many local news reports have attributed the progress to innovations in public safety and criminal justice.
What is causing the decline in the murder rate in Camden — where the police department was disbanded and the newly created county force recently took over — and how can we perpetuate and accelerate that progress?
In a video posted earlier this year, Fr. Jeff Putthoff, S.J., Executive Director of Hopeworks ‘N Camden, contends that when we “numb out” and tolerate violence, we are colluding with violence. Hopeworks strives to “heal communities by creating safe pathways through which we own our histories and discover new choices.”
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The Gun Crisis Reporting Project is an award-winning, independent, nonprofit journalism community striving to illuminate the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia — and to find solutions.