PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Jim Kenney issued the following statement today in reaction to the city surpassing 500 homicides in 2021:
“I am heartbroken and outraged that we’ve lost 500 Philadelphians—including many children and teenagers—to needless violence this year. I never stop thinking about the victims and their families, and the incredible loss these senseless deaths leave behind. As we close in on the end of a year where we saw unprecedented levels of shootings and homicides, part of a disturbing trend nationwide, I want all residents to know that our administration takes this crisis very seriously, and we continue to act with urgency to reduce violence and save lives.
“There is no greater priority for our administration than to reduce violence and create safer communities and a more just city for everyone. We are committed to doing everything in our power to prevent and reduce gun violence, including investing as much as we can back into our communities in proven programs that prevent violence.
“Our administration continues to work tirelessly in response to the national public health emergency that gun violence presents. On this front, the City has acted swiftly, investing in anti-violence initiatives that both address the immediate crisis and tackle the systemic, root causes of violence. We’ve invested a record $155 million to reduce and prevent violence this year alone.
“That includes a $22 million investment in Anti-Violence Community Partnership Grants, which our administration—in partnership with City Council—announced earlier this summer. This is a major piece of our historic investment in a wide array of violence prevention programming and services that contribute to the City’s violence prevention and reduction goals. Through this program, we’ve already distributed nearly $6.5 million to local organizations doing impactful anti-violence work on the ground in our communities, with more funding to be distributed in the coming weeks.
“These programs are critical to finding innovative, urgent solutions not just to prevent violence before it happens but to support victims and their families through trauma and counseling, which is necessary to reduce the endless cycle of violence plaguing too many of our neighborhoods.
“As the Police Department continues to implement ways to reduce and prevent violence in our neighborhoods, we’re seeing progress with our Operation Pinpoint Strategy—through which we’ve seen overall reductions in violent crime specifically within our pinpoint grids in multiple districts throughout the city. PPD also continues to take record numbers of guns off the streets; this year we’re on track to remove more than 6,000 crime guns, a 40 percent increase from just two years ago. Every one of these guns off the streets is one less that could be used to harm or kill Philadelphians.
“But we know that these strategies alone are not enough to resolve this crisis. So we continue to do everything possible to protect our communities, and to work with City leaders, law enforcement, and our local, state and federal partners to promote public safety.
“As we enter this holiday season, I can’t help but think of all the incredible potential that has been extinguished by this loss of life. Our young people can do anything. I see it every time I visit a school, a rec center, or one of our pre-K centers.
“We as a city and a society must value that life, and do everything we can to remind our young people—through our words and our actions—that they are valued, that they are important, and that their lives matter.
“And we must reinforce broadly that there are always options beyond carrying a gun, and that there are consequences if you nevertheless choose to carry that gun or—god forbid—use it.
“We will continue to work with our criminal justice and community-based partners to address this challenge, save lives, and protect communities in every corner of Philadelphia. I am resolved to devote every remaining day in this office to stopping this senseless violence in its tracks.”