Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks in this undated photo (Image via The Philadelphia Tribune).
By Brian Saunders
PHILADELPHIA — With his mind focusing on the city’s homicides surpassing 400 victims, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he laid awake and stared at his ceiling this weekend.
This is also a week in which there were 20 homicides, and 71 total criminal shootings, according to the Philadelphia Police Department.
“I’m heartbroken and outraged that we’ve lost more than 400 Philadelphians to preventable violence,” Kenney said.
“I want all residents to know that our administration takes this crisis very seriously. And we’re acting with urgency to reduce violence through many means,” he said. “The police department is making significant arrests and taking a record number of illegal firearms off our streets. But, still, they need the public’s help to solve crimes.”
Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw addressed a virtual news conference on gun violence that covered initiatives, trends, gun seizures, arrests and homicide numbers over the last month.
Outlaw made it clear that her department is doing what it can to get illegal firearms off the street and keep repeat violent offenders in custody. Outlaw said she is pleased with the work her team is doing while understaffed with decreased resources.
When discussing gun violence prevention, preventative measures addressed are usually long-term solutions, such as education and workforce training. However, Outlaw said that the most effective short-term solution to stopping homicides from continuing to soar throughout the city was to take away unauthorized guns.
“We’ve been arresting more people who are illegally carrying guns and taking more illegal guns off the streets than ever before,” Outlaw said.
According to James Kelly, chief inspector of the PPD, 4,475 crime guns have been recovered in 2021, and an estimated total of 6,050 are expected to be seized by year’s end. For comparison, 4,989 firearms were recovered in 2020.
“Right now, the plan is taking twice as many guns off the streets, and we arrested twice as many people for carrying an illegal firearm,” Kenney said. “But again, the propensity and the availability of firearms in this city in this state in this country is insane.”
Atwood, the senior director for the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, spoke about the grant funding provided to the fourth round of the Targeted Community Investment Grant program.
The program awards microgrants to residents and grassroots organizations that offer needed prevention services and supports in communities most impacted by gun violence.
“I was really focused on communities, smaller grassroots organizations, and individuals who are focused on providing programs and services for those who are the most vulnerable to gun violence,” Atwood said.
This round had 41 awardees, and the $900,000 in funds were divided up in sums from $10,000 to $50,000.
“In this cohort, like others, there’s a particular emphasis placed on what we know to be interrupters to the cycle of violence,” Atwood said. “Mentorship, education, employment, and trauma-informed supports and services, the target population for these programs are most vulnerable to victims, witnesses, or perpetrators of gun violence in neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence.”
Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.