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Philadelphia Homicide Rate Climbs, Highest In Over A Decade

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Philadelphia's homicide rate is the highest in over a decade, as a particularly violent summer morphed into a deadly fall and the mayor declared gun violence a public health emergency.

As of Dec. 16, 333 people have been victims of homicide in the city, an 11 percent increase from the same period a year ago, and the highest since 2007.

"The homicide rate is disturbing. It's higher than it was over the last 10 years but we go back to the former administrations, we were in the five hundreds, Chicago is in the 1,000 or close to a thousand so we're doing our best to get it down to keep it down and to address the symptoms, address the issues that cause the problem in the first place and that's poverty and lack of education and lack of jobs," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

The poverty rate in Philadelphia is at 26 percent. That's almost double the national average.

In October, Kenney assigned a team in the office of violence prevention to come up with a plan to reduce killings and shootings in Philadelphia.

He also called for an audit of current city-funded violence prevention programs.

Another city leader trying to tackle the homicide rate is Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

"We're working very hard in conjunction with partners from the city as well as some community-based organizations that are trying to assist us because we've always believed, not just this year, every year, that it requires a collaborative effort."

Roz Pichardo lost her brother Alexander Martinez back in 2012.

Martinez's murder is still unsolved and 6 years later Pichardo is trying to spark change through "Operation Save Our City."

"Why is it so easily accessed to get a weapon? It shouldn't be that way. The NRA needs to focus on why so many lives are lost instead of making a profit," said Pichardo.

But Pichardo isn't alone in this fight.

Rev. Jeanette Davis is a part of D.I.V.A.S. Ministry group, an organization that works with those who are hurting in the community.

"Violence may reside in our communities but love also resides in our communities," said Davis.

Rev. Davis believes if more churches got involved in their communities the homicide rate wouldn't be so high.

New York and Los Angeles, with populations much larger than Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents, have had fewer homicides this year. As of Dec. 9, New York City had seen 273 homicides; as of Dec. 8, Los Angeles had 243.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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