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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The number of murders in Philadelphia is down nearly 40 percent in 2013, with even deeper declines in violent crime statistics in South Philadelphia.  The decline in crime comes thanks in part to a more focused police presence and community support.

Philadelphia Police Inspector Anthony Washington says over the past year there’s been a significant drop in homicides and other violent acts in South Philadelphia.

“The third district has over 50 percent decrease in homicides,” says Washington, “and the 17th has over 10 percent decrease in homicides.”

Washington says it’s thanks to stepped up police presence in high crime areas, from Broad to 25th Street and from Moore to Snyder, as well as a focus on repeat offenders and more input from residents.

“The community is recognizing a difference from the officers being there, being visible, being productive by clearing corners and making significant arrests and reducing gun violence,” says Washington, “it’s to a point where now they are willing to come to us.”

First District Captain Lou Campione says homicides in his district have dropped from 11 in 2012 to 2 in 2013.  He calls the stats progress, but not enough.

“Two homicides is too many,” says Campione, “but it’s about the men and women with uniforms on and the community members joined together that will bring those numbers down.”

Campione says residents like Carol Lanni who started “Taking our South Philadelphia Streets Back” on Facebook, are making an impact. After her son was mugged last summer, Lanni created the page to give South Philadelphia residents a place to report crimes or suspicious activity (See Previous Story).  Since the page launched in August, it’s received nearly 7,000 “likes,” fielding hundreds of comments regarding crime and suspicious activity in the area.

“I don’t want people to live in fear, I want them to get involved,” says Lanni, who at one time administered the page on her own.  But it’s gotten so busy, she now has three volunteers.

“The people are really making a difference,” says Lanni, “I feel safer– I want South Philadelphia to be like it used to be when you could live without locking your doors.”

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