With Philadelphia’s homicide total surpassing the 500 mark for two consecutive years, and with questions swirling about how the city tracks and tabulates that statistic, Broad + Liberty has launched an independent tracker to list homicides (what the city police call M-jobs) as well as special case/suspicious deaths (S-Jobs) in the city.
On any given day, the number of items (rows) entered in the tracker may not correlate precisely to the number of homicides in the city, which is, in part, why our outlet has embarked on this project.
In order to hold the city accountable for accurately reporting criminal deaths in the city, Broad + Liberty is also tracking cases that have traditionally been excluded from the Philadelphia Police website, which includes vehicular and suspicious deaths, in an effort to ensure that they are regularly and properly reconciled to Philadelphia’s own published homicide tally in the year that they occurred.
By carefully tracking each homicide, found body, and suspicious death, we hope to either provide greater confidence in Philadelphia’s published tally, or we hope to expose and correct flaws and to help give a voice to concerned citizens, victims, and survivors throughout our city.
One of the most important columns in the tracker is “Source of Information” which will transparently show you if the information was received directly from Philadelphia Police, or from some other source.
If you have a tip on a homicide, found body, or suspicious death, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your communications will be kept confidential. If a tip is used in the spreadsheet, the tipster will not be identified, but the “source of information” will simply be labeled “tip.” The more information you can provide on tips, such as date, street location, photographs, and any other documents is helpful.
The spreadsheet is hosted on Broad + Liberty, but helping in the maintenance is a team of highly engaged citizen journalists. Donations are appreciated to help defray the minimal cost of maintaining the database, and to tip the volunteers for their year-round efforts. (Please use this specific link for donations to fund the tracker. Even though the donation page may say “General Fund,” we are tracking donations that flow from this specific referral link.)
Definitions of most of the data columns are posted below the spreadsheet. Entries for which we believe there is a conflict between how Broad + Liberty is classifying the incident versus how Philaldelphia Police are classifying the incident are highlighted in light orange. For example, if we believe PPD is classifying an incident as suspicious and we are classifying it as a homicide, that row of data will appear in orange.
LAST UPDATED: 03:20 p.m., Sept. 30, 2023.
Reference number: A number generated to keep each entry in the tracker distinct.
Crime date: The date the violence was believed to have been perpetrated, if applicable, (which is to say, a found body might not have a crime date).
Body found date: This column exists to make distinctions between homicides discovered immediately in which the crime date is known, versus homicides that might be a found body in which the crime date is unsure or unknown.
Type: Homicide, suspicious death, or found body.
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