By Mike Dunn and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Nutter is touting a drop in citywide crime in Philadelphia in 2014.READ MORE: Exclusive: Sources Tell CBS3 Criminal Charges Expected In Fire, Building Collapse That Resulted In Death Of Philadelphia Fire Lt. Sean Williamson
“These preliminary year-end totals,” the Mayor stated, “are the lowest since 1971.”
“We made progress in 2014, that’s what it shows,” explained Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who was at the Mayor’s side during a press conference.
And amid the national debate over police use of force, Nutter attributes the lower numbers not just to good policing, but also to cooperation from community groups that represent the city’s minority residents.
Preliminary figures cited by Mayor Nutter for 2014 show 248 homicides in the city — a 36 percent decline from 2007, the year before he took office.
Nutter said all violent crime was down 25 percent compared to 2007, and the number of shooting victims dropped 34 percent compared to seven years ago.
“It’s a question of numbers and fewer people being victimized, which is always a positive thing, but the fact that people are being victimized is still troubling,” Ramsey commented.READ MORE: 2 Suspects Fatally Shot During Home Invasion In South Philadelphia, Police Say
The credit for the gains, according to the mayor, should go not just to the police department, but also to local community groups that cooperate with police:
“They are tremendously aided, assisted and helped by ongoing support that we receive from leaders in our community across the many, many neighborhoods across the city of Philadelphia, our town watch organizations, our anti-crime organizations, our leadership groups that focus on the issue of safety in our African American and Latino communities across the city of Philadelphia.”
Nutter said that cooperation is particularly apparent in the drop in the number of homicides, where residents quickly calling 9-1-1 can often save the life of a shooting victim:
“The difference between a shooting and a homicide is sometimes just aim, or more importantly excellent medical attention, the rapid response by our police officers, EMS services and citizens letting us know that something terrible has happened.”
But longtime Community leader Bilal Qayyum, who attended the press conference, says that while the news is encouraging, it provides little consolation to some crime-weary neighbors.
“My concern is even with the numbers down, there are still too many deaths,” he told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter. “They don’t feel any more safe in their neighborhoods than they did two, three, four, five years ago. There are shootings happening in those communities every day.”
Nutter’s effort to praise community groups and residents as well as police comes in the wake of the huge national furor over police use of force spurred by deaths in Ferguson, Missouri and on Staten Island, as well as the murders of two New York City police officers two weeks ago.MORE NEWS: Officer Fires Gun During Struggle With Suspect Wanted For Stealing Car, Philadelphia Police Say
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