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“President Trump’s false statements today were an insult to the men and women of the Philadelphia police force,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney rejected claims President Trump made Thursday that the city is seeing a surge in its murder rate.
“Right now, too many families don’t feel secure. Just look at the 30 largest cities. In the last year alone, the murder rate has increased by an estimated 14 percent,” Trump said during remarks delivered in Philadelphia at a congressional Republican retreat. The president then added: “Here in Philadelphia the murder rate has been steady, I mean just, terribly increasing.”
For the most part, the president’s comments do not accurately reflect recent trends with homicides in the city. The number of murders to date in 2017, however, was up over last year, as of Wednesday.
Kenney, who is a Democrat, issued a swift rebuke.
“President Trump’s false statements today were an insult to the men and women of the Philadelphia police force,” the mayor said in a statement. “Our homicides are, in fact, slowly declining.”
There were 277 murders recorded in Philadelphia during 2016, down from 280 in 2015, according to city police department figures. In general, the total number of documented annual homicides in the city has declined since around 2007, when it was 391.
The U.S. Census Bureau has not released a 2016 population estimate yet for Philadelphia. But using the 2015 population figure of 1,567,442 for both years, the murder rate per 100,000 residents was about 17.6 in 2016, down slightly from around 17.8 in 2015.
Year-to-date, homicides are higher in the city compared to the same time period last year. There were 27 killings as of Jan. 25 in Philadelphia, based on police department crime statistics. That’s in contrast to 17 as of the same day in 2016.
Kenney said the city is “not satisfied with even our current numbers” when it comes to homicides.
He added that Philadelphia was “handicapped by Republican refusal to enact any kind of common sense gun control” and by an “obsession” within the party with the idea that local police should carry out the duties of federal immigration authorities.
Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.
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