Philly Mayor Kenney, Police Commissioner question DA Krasner over gun crime prosecutions

Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Managing Director, Criminal Justice & Public Safety and Mayor Jim Kenney discuss preventive initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence and gun trauma (Philadelphia Tribune photo by Abdul Sulayman)

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw have raised questions about whether District Attorney Larry Krasner has been adequately prosecuting gun crimes in the city.

The mayor called on Krasner to enforce all firearms-related charges during the pandemic “going forward,” saying anyone carrying an illegal gun should be “locked up and kept there.”

“It is imperative that we send a clear message: Gun violence will not be taken lightly,” Kenney said. “This is a message the DA can reinforce in his office’s handling of all such cases going forward.”

Kenney added that “all criminal justice partners” needed to respond differently from what they are doing now.

“People do not believe that there’s a consequence for carrying an illegal gun and we have to change that mindset.”

Outlaw said, “There has to be teeth. There needs to be consequences. We can’t see a revolving door.”

She called for robust supervision of or programs for individuals released on gun-related charges.

Kenney’s and Outlaw’s comments followed a violent weekend in the city that ended with five people being shot on Monday, including an infant and a 14-year-old.

The city has already logged 95 homicides, up 20% from this time last year.

The DA’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy tried to walk back their comments, saying the administration was instead concerned about outcomes of those firearms cases and whether individuals were receiving bail as they await trial on gun crimes during the pandemic.

“We recognize the need for us to keep the prison population low but we also recognize the need to keep folks who are causing harm to our communities segregated from those communities,” Abernathy said.

Earlier in March, Outlaw put in place a directive for officers to delay arrests for a raft of low-level criminal offenses, including narcotics activity, burglary, theft, and prostitution.

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.