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My take: Wilmington Council politics and the lower crime rate

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Hello everyone,

While Philadelphia television stations relentlessly focus on the city’s near-record wave of homicides, the story is different in Wilmington.

As of early April, the state’s largest city has bucked the nationwide trend, with serious crimes down 37% for the year to date. Homicides are down by 33 percent, according to the city’s CompStat report.

The 2022 numbers, while noteworthy, come from a small base. A bad week or one turf war can flip the script. That’s why the police chief, mayor, and business community don’t spend time touting this success story.

Of greater significance is the decline in homicides over the period following Newsweek famously proclaiming the city as “Murder Town USA.” It led to ABC ordering a pilot of a TV series carrying that tagline.

According to the latest CompStat report, homicides have dropped by 56% over the past six years. The five-year figure is a drop of 67%. In addition, serious crime has been down by 29% over the past six years.

This progress is no reason for celebration.

Homicides continue to take a terrible toll on families and neighborhoods. The city’s crime remains high by national standards. Far too many guns remain on the streets, the relationship between the police and community remains a work in progress, and many social and economic issues have only been partially addressed.

Worse yet, far too people living outside the city and influenced by the Philly TV images view the city through the Murder Town lens.

A tug of far between the City Council and the Mayor’s office is another negative. The hasty and secretive council vote of no confidence for Police Chief Robert Tracy displayed politics at its rawest level. The latest head-scratching development is the council’s hiring of former Mayor James Baker as a consultant.

It adds up to a City Council saga that would make for a good Netflix or ABC series. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.