Philadelphia is on pace to shatter its record for murders recorded in this city this year, with more than 500 and counting before the calendar turns to December. The current record was established in 1990.
Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney has predictably responded to the impending record with the refrain of calling for making communities safer a “priority” for his administration on Wednesday. He said that he never stops thinking of the victims and their families as well as the “incredible potential that the loss of life has extinguished.”
The mayor highlighted his office’s initiative with city law enforcement named Operation Pinpoint Strategy in his comments. That program is designed to fight crime and remove “record numbers of guns” from Philadelphia streets. Kenney said that every gun the city fires is “one less that could be used to harm or kill” city residents.
This summer, the city council passed an annual budget that earmarked more than $155 million for violence prevention programs intended to cut into gun crime. From that amount, $22 million is allocated for grants to nongovernmental organizations related to reducing violence by using “trauma-informed healing and restorative practices and safe havens and mentorship.”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw released a statement saying that the impending homicide record “carries a weight that is almost impossible to comprehend truly.” She noted that Philadelphia police are dealing with low morale because of mixed signaling asking for a more substantial police presence while demanding “defunding” or outright abolishing the department.
Outlaw said that the city is struggling as a result with recruiting and retaining qualified police officers. She said the conflicting narratives are “counter-intuitive” and leave police “caught in the middle.”
City resident Jamal Johnson recently ended a hunger strike to promote gun violence awareness when the mayor agreed to meet with him. Johnson said that the people he sees every day have a feeling of lawlessness in city neighborhoods, adding that residents “feel our government has given up.”