Nearly six months into the year, Philadelphia is having its biggest problem with homicides since 2012. According to police department data, as of June 26, 152 homicides have been committed in Philadelphia this year. That’s 21 percent higher at the same point in time last year and 36 percent higher than in 2015.
The good news is the homicide rate is still much lower than it was 10 to 20 years ago (ahem, Donald Trump). But the increase compared to previous years has been enough for Commissioner Richard Ross to increase the size of its homicide unit and implement new strategies.
Now that the year is almost halfway over and given the increase over last year, Billy Penn decided to map each recorded homicide. The Philadelphia Police Department provided data from as recently as June 20, so nearly all of the city’s 152 homicides are on there. Here’s what we found out:
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There’s a homicide cluster around drug-infested areas
Two of the most infamous areas for heroin dealing and use are the Fairhill neighborhood and the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny. Within just a few blocks of K&A, 11 homicides have occurred. A few blocks west, between Lehigh Avenue and Westmoreland Street, and Fourth and A streets, there have been seven more.
One-third of homicides have happened near schools, libraries
How public are these homicides?
We looked at the areas in the direct vicinity of the homicides, and a little more than one-third of the crimes have occurred within three blocks of a community gathering spot. We considered these to be libraries, places of worship, grocery stores, parks, recreation centers and schools.
Of the 152 homicides, 29 occurred within one block of one of these places and another 25 occurred within two or three blocks. The full breakdown is below (some occurred close to multiple types of community spots and are counted twice):
- Park/Recreation Center: 18
- School: 17
- Place of worship: 15
- Grocery store: 5
- Library: 3
The homicide map is also an inequality map
It’s well-known that violent crime and homicide rates are higher in poorer neighborhoods. That correlation has been plenty apparent in Philadelphia so far this year: In every place you see the blue dots clustered on the above map, poverty rates are high.
At least 84 of the 152 homicides committed so far this year have been in the 10 poorest zip codes of Philadelphia. These neighborhoods’ share of homicides is 55 percent, while their share of the population is 28 percent.
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The 10 richest zip codes of Philadelphia have experienced two homicides so far this year.
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In April, Ross said, “deep poverty combined with lenient gun laws is just a terrible mix for us.”