In Philly, Violent Crime Down But Shootings by Police Dramatically Up

May 21st, 2013 by admin

When violent crime decreases, you would think police would have an easier time of it. You would think that fewer violent offenses would mean fewer violent interactions between cops and citizens. Well, as numbers show in Philadelphia, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Pennsylvanian Police in roman Temple DistrictAccording to Philly.com, violent offenses in the city fell last year. But police shot more at civilians. As a matter of fact, police shootings ending in injury or death were at the highest level in a decade. Last year, Philly police shot 52 suspects, 15 of which died. That’s compared to 35 in 2011, nearly a 50% leap.

“It certainly raises a red flag” said David Rudovsky, law professor and civil rights lawyer. “The numbers almost speak for themselves.”

The city has yet to provide a sound reason for the increase but does say that the numbers can be misleading. As Philly.com says, when compared with other cities for which similar data is available (D.C. NYC, Houston, Chicago, and Baltimore), Philly still comes out on top.

“The numbers fluctuate from year to year,” said Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey of the statistics. “You have to put it all in context,” he cautioned.

Ramsey says you can’t take the numbers at face-value, that you must look at why the officers are shooting. True, the number of assaults on officers when a handgun was involved increased in 2012, however, assaults on officers overall declined. In addition, the number of people who fired on officers fell from 12 to 3 from 2011 to 2012.

Though the city used to have an “accountability officer” taked with looking at such issues and advocating for progressive change, that position was eliminated. The former accountability officer and now a Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Green-Ceisler released a detailed report in 2005 on police-involved shootings, calling the number of times officers pulled the trigger against citizens, “a troubling trend that deserves close attention and monitoring,” – something that hasn’t been done since her job was eliminated.

Ramsey is quick to point out that Internal Affairs only found 11 violations of police directives among officers in 2012. This is the fewest in at least four years. But he also says we can’t look at the injuries and deaths of civilians at the hands of officers as an indication of a problem. How then can we consider the 11 violations found by other employees of the Department as an indication of improvement?

The likelihood of you being shot by a Philly cop is pretty slim. But, the likelihood of you being arrested is much greater. If you are facing questionable criminal charges—whether for a violent crime or a drug offense, call for a free consultation.

 

 

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