Lawmakers’ Report Says Philadelphia D.A.’s Policies Are a Factor in the Crime Rate
It wasn’t until the third day of his hearing with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office on the murder of Jennifer Williams in 2012 that the nation’s spotlight was shined on a local homicide rate that has been growing steadily for more than two decades, to the point where it now rivals Chicago’s and St. Louis’s.
Last Wednesday, lawmakers and media outlets alike descended upon the offices of District Attorney Seth Williams on Chestnut Street to hear him offer an apology for the fact that the District Attorney’s office had been doing little to combat the city’s rising murder rate in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.
Williams had come to say that he’s taken the crime rate under serious consideration. That came only a few days after his office sent out an email to its employees, informing them that this year would be worse, on average, than every year prior, with one in three murders being committed by a victim under the age of 18.
“I’ve considered the crime rate in the coming years and there are things that we can’t do about it,” Williams said. “We can work with the police, we can work with the district attorney’s office, the probation department, local law enforcement in the district, our own detectives, but we can’t do them all.”
Williams, 51, acknowledged that “if we haven’t done better, then we’re failing.” His comments prompted a lengthy rebuttal from Chief Wilson Goode and members of the media in what became the most controversial and most-viewed hearing in the city’s history.
“My staff has informed me of the very serious problems we’ve had in this crime problem,” Goode responded earlier in the hearing. “We’re working on it.”
According to recent FBI crime statistics released by the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), the city has averaged more than 27 homicides per year since the recession hit, peaking at 29 per year in 2010, 27 in 2011 and 28