Trump Lies About Philly’s Murder Rate in Loews Hotel Speech

Donald Trump came to Philadelphia and tried to scare you about the state of the city. Don’t fall for it.

Trump at the Loews Hotel

Image via C-SPAN

Donald Trump came to Philadelphia and lied about us.

He almost didn’t. During a speech in front of congressional Republicans on Thursday at the Loews Hotel in Center City, he spoke about crime. “Right now too many families don’t feel secure,” Trump said. “Just look at the 30 largest cities. In the last year alone the murder rate has soared. Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady …”

He paused.

(It’s true that after dropping for several years, the murder rate in Philadelphia has been relatively steady for the past few. It’s a problem.)

And then:

“… terribly increasing,” he finished.

It was yet another lie from our new president. Philadelphia Police statistics show that the number of homicides has been decreasing in Philadelphia over the last decade. The city hit a low in 2013 (with 243 homicides). There were 277 homicides in 2016, three fewer than the year before.


That is not something to crow about, of course. While crime is down from the recorded highs of roughly 30 years ago, violent crime should upset us. One murder is too many. The murder rate has been flat for several years now, and that is also upsetting. We ought to be figuring out what has worked to drop the murder rate since its high in 1990, and do more of it.

Trump could have acknowledged that and pushed any of his policing strategies — he’s for “law and order” policing, and he doesn’t mean Briscoe and Curtis — by saying there’s too much crime. But instead he lied.

Why? There’s a chance he doesn’t even know. Trump talks off the cuff, and most people do not know that there has been a large drop in crime across the country since the early 1990s. No one’s entirely sure why crime has dropped since then, but the fact is crime is decreasing.

Almost every year, Americans think crime is going up when it’s actually been decreasing on the whole. Donald Trump is using this to make you feel like the city is much less safe than it actually is, so he can push his policies with less resistance. People might be OK with certain policing tactics they’d otherwise oppose if they think the city is going to hell. It’s not. We have too many murders, and we do need to take steps to lower the number. But starting that conversation with a lie is going to get us nowhere.