Latest FBI data puts 2013 murder reductions in context

Recently-released data illustrates remarkable progress in homicide reduction in Philadelphia during the first half of 2013, but the city still maintained the highest rate of homicide per capita among the nation’s largest municipalities. According to the FBI, 116 people were killed in the city between January and June of last year, 70 fewer people than were killed during the same period in 2012, for a year-to-year reduction of 37 percent.

However, double-digit homicide reductions were also reported in many large US cities, keeping Philadelphia’s murder rate at the top of the list. Using the latest US Census population estimates, we calculated an annual homicide rate of 15 people murdered per 100,000 residents for the first half of last year, more than four times the per capita rate for New York City during the same period.

Annual rates — based on FBI data for 2012 — are shown in the column at left. Annual rate projections for 2013, at right, are based on recently-released FBI data for the first six months of the year. (View a table of this data.)

The FBI cautions that attention to rankings can “lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions,” but it is worth noting that Philadelphia was at the top of the list for per capita homicides reported in the 15 largest US cities during 2012 as well, and continued to maintain that position in spite of great progress.

As we previously reported, Philadelphia ended 2013 with an even higher rate of homicide per capita — 21.45 murders per 100,000 residents — higher than New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, but Philadelphia also showed the greatest rate of homicide reduction among the same cities last year.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported last week that the city has counted more homicides this year than New York City — which has more than five times our population. The latest Compstat data shows NYC homicides down by 18.5 percent this year while phillypolice.com indicates an increase of 3o percent here at home.

Photo above: A Philadelphia Police investigator photographs the crime scene where a 42-year-old man was shot to death during a robbery in May, 2013 in the Onley section of Philadelphia. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

Posted by Jim MacMillan

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