To date, there have been more than 356 homicides and over 1,500 reported shooting victims in Philadelphia in 2020. Approximately 17 percent of shooting incidents (250 shootings) have been classified as fatal, and tragically, the City has now surpassed the 2019 end-of-year total for citywide murders. While many major U.S. cities are seeing similar spikes in gun violence, we maintain that one homicide is one too many, and that gun violence is entirely unacceptable.
Keeping our sense of urgency on this mounting public health crisis, the City has deployed the following strategies (among others) to continue to tackle the epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia:
- Philadelphia Police launched a new crime fighting strategy under the leadership of Commissioner Danielle Outlaw: The new crime prevention and reduction plan aims to strengthen and more fully commit all PPD efforts to reduce crime and violence. Integrated into this plan is PPD’s “Operation Pinpoint” strategy, which takes a “surgical” approach to gun violence by focusing on the people and places most at risk, and underlying neighborhood conditions that drive gun violence.
- Launched Group Violence Intervention (GVI) to focus on the small, but active group of people engaged in violence: GVI is an evidence-based approach that elevates the role community support and social services play in reducing gun violence. And, most importantly, this strategy involves law enforcement partnering with the community to focus on the small and active number of people driving the violence plaguing many of our neighborhoods.
- The Community Crisis Intervention Program (CCIP) is ramping up with more workers out on the street: CCIP now has more than 50 workers out in the community in the green phase of reopening. CCIP looks to connect more people to the services and support they need to disengage from violence and to stay safe. Workers have been operating safely with PPE and practicing social distancing guidelines.
- Police are now working with the District Attorneys on the ground: The District Attorney has assigned two Assistant District Attorneys to each of the six geographic PPD divisions, to work alongside PPD’s investigative personnel. This includes responding to and investigating violent crimes (particularly those involving the use of a firearm) from their inception. This will provide greater focus, attention, and consistency to investigations and prosecutions, and will ultimately result in the removal of the most dangerous offenders from our communities.
- Police are meeting weekly with law enforcement partners: PPD has initiated weekly “shooting review” meetings with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners. The meetings promote collaboration, communication, and shared responsibility in accomplishing common goals. Each meeting concludes with clear strategic direction, actions items and/or deliverables as it pertains to each shooting in Philadelphia.
- Reviewing updated data on gun violence: The Office of the City Controller released an interactive map of shooting victims as part of an effort to better understand trends in Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis and rising homicides. The tool shows the locations of shootings, denoting fatal and non-fatal shootings, annually since 2015 (filtered by year) and includes information about the age, race/ethnicity, and gender of the victim, as well as incidents with associated court cases.
- Town Watch is engaging and recruiting more residents to help promote public safety: Town Watch Integrated Services is partnering with residents and community organizations to promote public safety through peace walks, neighborhood clean ups that address blight, hosting neighborhood discussions to find solutions to the violence, and increasing resident participation in Town Watch activities across the city. Specifically, Town Watch has conducted trainings and presentations in houses of worship to host community activities and create more patrols for neighborhoods experiencing high rates of gun violence. Town Watch is also working with the School District of Philadelphia in developing safety plans for when schools resume in-person classes and are recruiting volunteers for Safe Corridors.
- The Network of Neighbors Responding to Violence is offering an informational session on October 13th that is open to the public: This session will also provide information regarding the upcoming Network of Neighbors training in November 2020 that is free to all Philadelphians. Network of Neighbors provides free trauma-informed, evidence-based, and community-directed support to communities throughout Philadelphia that have been impacted by violence. Community members can attend the Network’s free training to learn how to support—and lead—responses within their own neighborhoods and across the city.
- Deploying Benefits Mobile Office to Pinpoint Areas: The Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) deploys its mobile office three days a week to Pinpoint areas to screen individuals and help them apply for local, state and federal benefits. In addition, staff connects residents with local resources such as the Census Bureau, employment and workforce development opportunities, housing assistance, along with drug and alcohol treatment. Residents may also be referred to other services where appropriate.
- Connecting Residents with Employment Opportunities: The Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) provides funding to the Center for Employment Opportunities and First Step Staffing, which provide job-readiness training, transitional employment and job coaching for formerly incarcerated individuals, those experiencing homelessness and military veterans. The continuum of care from both providers increases employment and decreases recidivism.