Software Development
Crime / Data

Wilmington crime chart supports ‘Murder Town’ moniker

Civic hacker Chris Williams pulled the data. Here's hoping former Philadelphia police commish Charles Ramsey can help fix it.

The Chris Williams graph comparing murder rates in Philly and Wilmo. (Courtesy image)

Data enthusiast, Delaware Agenda founder and contributor Chris Williams knows that Charles Ramsey, the former police commissioner for Philadelphia, had a pretty good strategy for reducing the city’s homicide rate.
Williams is also learning the statistical programming language R, and in his first go-round using it for graphing purposes, he decided to look at Philly’s murder rate per 100,000 people during (and a little before) Ramsey’s campaign to decrease homicides by 100 a year. Then Williams compared it with homicide stats from Wilmington from the same time.
The graph (see above) might look bleak, but Williams said he has some hope: Ramsey will be advising the city of Wilmington as a public safety consultant in an effort to reduce violent crime. (He’ll be a busy guy — he just announced Sunday he’ll also be advising Chicago on civil rights reform.) Looking at his success on William’s chart, that’s a big win for Wilmington.
To get crime data for Wilmington — the city does not make that information public — Williams said he used data from the FBI. He also had to do a little math to figure out the Wilmington graph line because the city’s population is about 70,000, which is significantly less than Philly’s (and the 100,000 measuring mark).
In 2007, there were 391 homicides in Philadelphia, Williams found. Ramsey’s work began in 2008, and murders dropped by 60 that year. The next year, murders fell to 302, and in 2013, they dropped to 246.
Ramsey’s strategy included officers getting more involved in the communities they patrolled and getting to know the people in their neighborhoods.


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