PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dick Morris and Gary R’nel spoke with Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel on Friday.
They discussed Philadelphia’s crime, homicide and incarceration rates as they compare to other major cities in the United States.
Dick first asked the Deputy Commissioner about Philadelphia’s homicide rate as they compare to other major cities.
“Why does Philadelphia have 334 homicides, Chicago has 506, New York has 515?” asked Dick. “So Philadelphia has one homicide for every 4,500 people, Chicago one for every 5,300 people, and New York one for every 16,500 people.”
“When you are comparing cities like that I think it’s kind of hard to do,” answered Bethel. “Many people throw New York in that number.”
“In New York City per capita there’s one murder for every 16,000 people, in Chicago for every 5,000 people and for Philadelphia every 4,500 people,” said Dick.
“I don’t want to get what the per capitas are,” said Bethel. “I deal with the issues we have here is Philadelphia. I think there’s a whole myriad of reasons why those numbers are different.”
“Like what?” Dick asked.
“If you’re looking at New York, New York has almost 35,000 police officers. And many of their crimes and many of their issues…and we’re also talking about the issue of poverty.”
“New York has one cop for every 242 people, Philadelphia one for every 227 people, and Chicago one for every 200 people, just about the same,” responded Dick.
“I can’t explain that to you,” said Bethel.
Dick then asked the Deputy Commissioner about incarceration rates.
“Some people say well it’s a lack of prison space. Well the number of inmates per capita in Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois is also just about the same – 248 for Pennsylvania, 233 for New York, 261 for Illinois,” said Dick.
“In fairness to the process and in fairness to having a dialogue about that topic, then that information is something we would have to, in preparation to talk to you about that,” answered Bethel. “But I’m not here or prepared to talk to you what the prison rates are or the per capita. I’m here if you want to have a conversation about what’s going on in Philadelphia now, what the issues are and how we are working very hard in our offices and out in the street every day trying to make this a safe city.”
“The homicide rate throughout the country has decreased dramatically, but not in Philadelphia, in fact it’s increased 10 percent since 2010,” said Dick. “So what is the Philadelphia Police Department doing about it?”
“Well I think that’s a mistake if you’re going to just pull out 2010 when we had 306 murders,” said Bethel. “If you go back to when Commissioner Ramsey took over the Philadelphia Police Department we had 391. So we’ve seen a significant drop-off since those 2007 numbers. In 2012 we were down 15%. And even this year we’re working very hard and my officers, men and women in the street, and our commanders are working very diligently to continue to drive that.”
“I don’t have the numbers for 2007 and you may well be right, you probably are. In 2009 it was 305, in 2010 it was 306, and in 2011 it went up, and in 2012 it went up again,” said Dick.
“I would also challenge you when you take those three years, over a more global scale going back 25 years, many of those numbers are in the top 10 of where we’ve been in our lowest numbers,” answered Bethel.
Dick then asked Bethel what steps the department is taking to deal with the high murder rate.
“Murder is murder and we’re always working in that area,” said Bethel. “We’re being more strategic. We’re using a lot of data to drive our analysis of where we’re putting our personnel, and we’re working to do that. Many of my commanders and many of my district personnel understand what’s going on in their communities. We’re looking at those hot spots and we know what time of the day those instances occur and we’re trying to make sure we have our people in place to minimize or avoid those instances from happening.”