And domestic-abuse homicides fell to 24 last year.
To turn things around, Fox and her colleagues equipped beat cops with a new, immensely detailed report, requiring them to gather crucial information about the ugliness unfolding behind closed doors.
In a key section, the form forces police to gather information to 25 questions detailing what violence had been inflicted, from hair-pulling to injuries against pets.
Experts asked the department to flag four indicators: incidents with guns, stalking, violation of protection orders, and attempted strangulations.
Once the cops fill out the forms, they are sent across town to advocacy groups.
"This is huge," says Jeannine Lisitski of Women Against Abuse. "We're reaching people we know are at risk of being killed."
Since the group's reforms were implemented, Women Against Abuse has been able to contact almost two-thirds of the victims in incident reports. That's particularly impressive since counselors can't risk leaving messages.
"We know we're reaching the right people," Lisitski says, isolated women unaware of their services. Legal assistance has been stepped up, placing attorneys in designated courtrooms to expedite cases.
It's a truism that domestic violence can erupt in any household, at any income level. But in Philadelphia, police and advocacy groups deal almost exclusively with violence among the poor who have few if any resources to escape their situation.
"Poverty is a form of violence," Lisitski says. "It tears people down, and harms them permanently."
Domestic abuse, experts argue, is rooted in power and control. When the economy worsens, victims wanting to flee have fewer resources, while perpetrators can become more violent if they've lost jobs - a loss also of power and control.
After a rollout as a pilot program, the new incident reports were instituted citywide a year ago. The form has already yielded critical information for law enforcement, advocates, and researchers.
Perhaps the most macabre finding has to do with the significance of attempted strangulation.
"We've learned just how prevalent strangulation is in Philadelphia," says Molly Callahan, director of Women Against Abuse's legal center. "It's a huge number."
In the first three months of this year, police had to respond to a stunning 273 such attacks. What's especially alarming is that the physical effects of attempted strangulation may not manifest immediately, while the women are at profound risk, their abusers potential killers. So police inquiries, stopping to ask the right questions, help dramatically.
While the improved police response is enormous, advocates still argue for a more comprehensive government approach to domestic violence as not only a matter of law enforcement, but also of public health.
Lisitski and other experts are pushing for city officials to recognize the problem, the cumulative effect on the health and welfare of the community. Children who live in a domestic war zone grow up to have huge problems that become "a costly problem for our society," Lisitski says. "We see it in so many developmental ways and how it spreads out to other systems - child welfare, juvenile delinquency, prisons, drug and alcohol abuse."
We must solve the problem now, or pay for it later. "If we're not addressing the foundational issue of violence in the home," Lisitski says, "we're not helping with these issues."
Still, Philadelphia is making progress in policing, advocacy, and criminal prosecution.
In the fall, Fox plans to retire after 36 years in the department, among the first women to join. As a civilian, she plans to learn more and do more for victims of domestic violence. "It's been such a unique partnership," Fox says. "I'm not done with this."
Contact Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.