毫无疑问,公共安全和犯罪是费城人最关心的问题之一,初选后的民意调查就证实了这一点。谢丽尔·帕克(Cherelle Parker)和欧大卫(David Oh)也都自称是“严厉打击犯罪”的费城市长候选人。



Is Tough on Crime Smart?

记者/Reporter:Cory Clark

Photographed by Metro Chinese

毫无疑问,公共安全和犯罪是费城人最关心的问题之一,初选后的民意调查就证实了这一点。谢丽尔·帕克(Cherelle Parker)和欧大卫(David Oh)也都自称是“严厉打击犯罪”的费城市长候选人。

Cherelle Parker and David Oh have described themselves as “tough on crime” candidates. There is no doubt public safety and, thus, crime is one of the Philadelphians’ top concerns, exit polls after the primary told us as much. 


The question isn’t whether crime is terrible; it is. It’s what’s behind it and how do we fix it.


“We are talking about kids between 11 and 15, from what I understand, shooting at each other, and then after that, you have ATVs and quads and dirt bikes racing down the streets,” said Oh, referencing recent issues in Chinatown and Center City.

First, let’s clear some things up; the term tough on crime is a platitude aimed at the most fearful in our city and country more broadly. Politicians who call themselves this are telling you that their answer to systemic problems in our city is state violence. America is already the most incarcerated country on the planet, and crime is still a problem, as are drug abuse and gun violence, more specifically.

Photographed by Metro Chinese

Despite politicized claims that this rise resulted from criminal justice reform in liberal-leaning jurisdictions, murders rose roughly equally in cities run by Republicans and cities run by Democrats. So-called red states saw some of the highest murder rates of all. Evidence points to broad national causes driving rising crime, such as poverty, opportunity, political uncertainty, and the unequal effects of COVID in poor urban and rural areas.   

“Stop and Frisk” has never worked; peer-reviewed studies and the courts have consistently found that black and brown citizens were more likely to be stopped and that illegal weapons were recovered less than two percent of the time.Studies have also consistently found that these sorts of stops had terrible psychological and physical impacts on individuals and their communities.


An unintended consequence of policies like stop and frisk and the broader tough-on-crime narrative is that crime witnesses are less likely to come forward, and police have fewer officers to investigate serious crimes. An issue that’s already playing out in Philadelphia, in the 80s, the Philadelphia police department cleared 80 percent of homicides in the city; between 2010-15, that number dropped to 65 percent. By 2016 the number of homicides dropped to half; now, it’s less than half.
Philadelphia’s clearance rate starkly contrasts Phoenix and San Antonio, the two cities with the total population most comparable to Philadelphia. Phoenix and San Antonio cleared 63.2 and 65.2 percent of homicides, respectively, from 2016 to 2020. Compared to Philadelphia’s clearance rate of 44.8 Percent over the same period. 


New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, the three largest cities in the country reporting homicide clearance data to the FBI, had clearance rates of 67.6, 70.1, and 47.2 percent, respectively. Philadelphia has the lowest clearance rate of any of the ten largest cities in the U.S., reporting homicide clearance data to the FBI, according to Department of Justice Statistics.


In poor minority sections of the city, the closure rate for homicides drops as low as 16 to 22 percent.

Photographed by Metro Chinese


Clearance rates for assaults with a firearm have also fallen substantially from a high of 86 percent in 1969 to less than 20 percent in 2020.
Let’s be clear many of the arrests made in the 80s and 90s didn’t happen because the police conducted stellar investigations that caught the actual killer. They had such high clearance rates because they manipulated the courts, manufactured evidence, lied to and beat suspects into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit.

Photographed by Metro Chinese


All this while their bloated budget continues to grow and grow, while service for those most at risk continues to shrink along with taxes for the richest in the city. The Budget for the Philadelphia Police Department has grown from nearly 600 million dollars in 2006 to a current budget of around 800 million dollars and a proposed budget in the fiscal year 2024 of more than 855 million dollars.
市议会议员肯德拉·布鲁克斯(Kendra Brooks)在谈到警方未能满足社区需求时说:“我们正在写空头支票,而没有获得投资回报。”
“We’re writing blank checks and not getting a return on our investment,” said City Councilmember Kendra Brooks about the Police Department and its failure to meet the community needs.


Mandatory minimums have decimated communities across Philadelphia by incarcerating a generation of black and brown men in the city, mainly for low-level drug offenses. Beyond the obvious mass incarceration and mass supervision narratives based in fact, other often ignored narratives come into play for communities impacted by mass incarceration and the war on drugs.


The first is the impact of dehumanization caused by conditions in jails and prisons have on incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and their families. The inhumane and dehumanizing conditions in jails and prisons cause long-term physical and psychological damage to those who endure them.


The second significant impact of mass incarceration and the war on drugs is that this felonization of a generation has created a class of permanently unemployable people in our city. Sure, a handful of companies might hire people convicted of felonies, but the vast majority don’t, creating both worker and job shortages simultaneously.


Photographed by Metro Chinese

Banning the box hasn’t been nearly as effective as policymakers would have hoped to curb this frequently racist form of discrimination.A consequence of this is that people who might want to become productive members of society and provide for their families can’t, so they fall back into criminal behavior to provide food, housing, and other needs for their families that they are unable to through legal means.


Politicians like Parker and Oh are great at pointing to problems like drugs and violent crime, using their victims as mechanisms to create fear and outrage at the failure of the policies of the previous administrations. Yet, they never seem to come up with real solutions; just more of the same.

Photographed by Metro Chinese

David Oh, like former Republican senate candidate, points to Kensington as a prime example of what’s wrong in Philadelphia, and they’re right that it is a significant challenge for the city and has been for decades. For decades Philadelphia has also used the same tactics of over-policing, crackdowns, and forced evictions of encampments of unhoused, often drug-dependent people in the area.

Photographed by Metro Chinese

“毒品是犯罪的最大因素之一,但是欧大卫和帕克却反对安全注射站,而这个概念在其他地方已被证明确实有效,” 肯辛顿的药物成瘾性专家史蒂夫·科斯坦萨说。

“Drug addiction is one of the biggest contributors to crime, and yet David Oh and Cherelle Parker stood against the safe injection site, a concept that has been proven to work in other places,” said Steve Costanza, an addiction specialist in Kensington. 


Operation Sunrise in 1998 cracked down on crime and blight following the broken windows model. In recent years, Mayor Kenney has repeatedly deployed sweeps of the unhoused and every time, these tactics have failed and made the problems seen in Kensington worse.

Photographed by Metro Chinese


While Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) has many dedicated officers who risk their lives every day and try their hardest to make a difference, it also has a long history of corruption, brutality, and racism to go with tough-on-crime policies that have never worked, nor have they’ve ever been asked to prove those policies work. Politicians keep stating the obvious and throwing more money at the police, demanding they solve problems they aren’t equipped to solve.


The Philadelphia Police Department is the fourth largest in the country, yet it has the lowest homicide closure rate among the ten largest cities in the nation; during the same period, homicides increased in Philadelphia by 80 percent. The Department has 6,000 uniformed police officers, yet 2,500 are assigned to patrols across the city. That means there could be as many as 22 patrol units for high-crime areas to as few as 11 for low-crime areas.

The Department has failed to meet the national standard for answering 911 calls within 10 seconds since 2018, but like so many issues with PPD, it depends on where you live. If you live in a predominantly white neighborhood, you are more than twice as likely to have that needed 911 response for your 911 emergency as you are if you live in a black or brown community. If your 911 call was a high-priority call, the amount of time it took an officer to get there was longer the higher the priority call, and it took longer than any other city, according to an audit performed on PPD by the City Controller Office in 2022.  


It is important to note that Philadelphia’s homicide rate has fallen by 15 percent in the last two years as the city has deployed several violence prevention strategies, including youth engagement, educational and business opportunities, and mobile behavioral health intervention units. Larry Krasner’s office has also instituted policies focusing more on violent crime while deferring non-violent crime, leading to more violent criminals off the street while relieving some of the overcrowding in Philadelphia’s County prison system.


While Cherelle Parker has some terrible ideas for reducing violent crime in Philadelphia, others align with current and historical data.
帕克计划扩大费城青年项目“PHL Taking Care of Business Program”,改善生活质量问题,包括清洁街道和商业走廊、资助基础设施如路灯、增加更多监控摄像头、修缮住宅,并为被排除在就业市场之外的人提供体面的薪酬工作,这将对减少犯罪问题有所帮助。
Parker’s plan to expand programs for Philadelphia youth, the PHL Taking Care of Business program, to improve quality of life issues by cleaning streets and commercial corridors, funding infrastructure like streetlights, adding more cameras, repairing homes, and providing decent-paying jobs to people locked out of the job market would go a long way toward reducing crime.   


Parker and Oh’s plan to increase the police forensic department’s budget would go a long way toward solving the backlog of unsolved violent crimes in Philadelphia and getting violent criminals off the street. 


No matter which of the two candidates from the major parties wins the election in November, they have a tough road ahead if they want to tackle drug addiction and violent crime in Philadelphia. They won’t get anywhere on either issue if they don’t get smart about the problems and stop playing to people’s base instincts with nonsense tough-on-crime rhetoric.


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