The Brief: Will Crime Be an Issue in the Mayor’s Race?

In a passionate speech, Mayor Nutter says youth violence threatens the city's future.

Matt Rourke | AP

Matt Rourke | AP

This is Michael Nutter‘s final year as mayor, a/k/a legacy time. He’s talked up everything from his urban planning record to Philadelphia’s recent drop in homicides to its population growth.

But on Thursday, he delivered a speech at Temple University about youth violence that highlighted just how much work remains unfinished:

If Philadelphia does not address youth violence with collective efforts, our progress cannot and will not be sustained. … Last year, 248 Philadelphians were murdered on our streets. 40 percent of homicide victims are young people 24 years old or less. So on average, about 100 of those 248 murder victims were young people.

Further, about 75 percent of the homicide victims and 80 percent of the known perpetrators we arrest fir of violent crime in the City of Philadelphia are young, African-American men.

In the United States today, on average, one in three — that’s one in three — African-American men will have contact with the criminal justice system at some point during their lives.

This is coming from a mayor under whom homicides fell to a 46-year low.

Yet crime hasn’t been a major issue in the mayor’s race so far. So far schools, schools and schools have dominated. The only mayoral contender who has focused on violence is long-shot candidate/ex-con/former state Sen. Milton Street. On one hand, it’s understandable: Who wants to campaign on something that the current mayor has done a stellar job at reducing? But then again, as Nutter pointed out, 248 people were murdered last year. Crime remains, justifiably, a huge concern for many neighborhoods.

At the very least, voters probably ought to know whether the candidates want to continue Nutter’s strategies fighting crime — including everything from stop-and-frisk to hiring Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey — or not.

Don’t Miss…