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Death Takes a Holiday

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 27 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2003 Pages: 30-34
Shelly Feuer Domash
Date Published
June 2003
5 pages
This article describes how the cities of New York, New Orleans, Gary, IN, Philadelphia, and Detroit, all formerly cities with high murder rates, have significantly reduced their murder rates.
New York City's police commissioner credits the city's 74-percent decline in homicides to the targeting of narcotics-related violence by reducing drug accessibility in the city; the focus on arrests for minor crimes, which has cast a wide net that regularly catches persons with warrants for more serious crimes; and the targeting for intensive policing of those areas identified as highly violent. Two years ago, New Orleans was labeled the murder capital of the United States. The homicide rate has been significantly reduced by targeting those locations where most of the violent crimes have occurred, namely, three public housing developments. Community policing has been implemented in these areas, and the crime rate was reduced in these areas by 75 percent in the first year of the new strategy. The city of Gary has reduced its homicide rate significantly by targeting street-level crimes and gang-related crime through teamwork among local, State, and Federal law enforcement officers. Last year, the Philadelphia Police Department celebrated the city's lowest homicide rate in almost 20 years. The police commissioner believes Operation Safe Streets is largely responsible for this trend. Under this program, geographic locations with frequent violent incidents are targeted for sweeps to confiscate illegal guns and drugs. Detroit's homicide rate has remained stable but still high in recent years, so the Detroit Police Department is introducing new ways to counter violence. Since many shootings are deemed to be out of revenge for acts of inter-gang warfare, the police have become more aggressive in investigating any type of shooting, so shooters are immediately jailed to prevent retaliation on the street. Since many shootings and killings have resulted from the escalation of conflicts, the police have adopted a strategy of early intervention in conflict situations.