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Philadelphia Closes 2011 With Highest Per-Capita Murder Rate In U.S.

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Philadelphia is closing out another year with homicides up again. On a per-capita measurement, the city has the highest murder rate among big U.S. cities.

The homicide tally was 324 heading into the last two days of the year, above last year's 306, and 302 the year before.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the five-year high water mark was 2007, "It's one thing to say in '07 we had 392. But, for the 324 we've had this year, it doesn't bring any comfort to the family. It certainly doesn't bring any comfort to me."

Among the ten largest cities, Philadelphia's murder rate was 20.7 per 100,000. The next closest is Chicago, at 15.7, according to  Commissioner Ramsey, who was Chicago's top cop, before he came here from Washington DC.

"We'd have to be at the 230 mark in order to get down below where Chicago is right now."

That, despite the fact the number of shooting incidents is down 3.2%.

"We're getting people shot multiple times. We're getting people shot in the head at a higher rate more than we had before."

Like one job a few nights ago, "How do you shoot somebody 13 times? What kind of mentality is that. There's no legislation that can fix that. There's no deployment strategy that can fix that."

The District of Columbia is on pace to record the fewest number of homicides in 50 years, with 108 murders, so far this year. DC officials credit the decline to the quick turnaround time in closing cases.

Commissioner Ramsey says last year, Philadelphia's murder-clearance rate was up, but this year, it's dropped again, to 60%, which is two points below the national average.

"We've got a lot of very violent people out there on the streets that need to be taken off the streets, or they will kill again."

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