It wasn’t a happy Mothers Day for far too many families in the City of Brotherly Love. Last weekend saw 25 people getting shot with seven dying. But this wasn’t some statistical blip on the radar. It’s part of an ongoing trend that has been continuing for months. There have been 186 murders this year as of Monday. That’s a 40% increase from the same period in 2020. That’s double the increase we’ve seen in Chicago, which itself has experienced a 20% jump in killings. Twenty of the dead in Philadelphia were juveniles. The police are now calling for the people responsible for these shootings to “put down your guns.” (CBS Philadelphia)
A deadly Mother’s Day weekend left seven people dead and 25 people shot. Police say the responsibility to make change lies largely within the community.
“It’s up to the community, it’s up to these individuals that are committing these acts of violence. They have to take a step back and say, ‘Wow, is this really worth it? Are we going to continue to go in this direction,’” Philadelphia Police Capt. Jason Smith said…
“This is more violence than I’ve ever seen so we’re very concerned. We need people to put down the guns, to know that if someone has a gun they gotta let us know so we could try to intervene before that gun gets used in a crime,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said.
I’m not trying to be too much of a pessimist here, but I somehow doubt that the gangs of Philadelphia are going to “put down their guns” just because you asked them to nicely. The responsibility for cutting down the number of shootings is not “up to the community.” It lies with the municipal government and the police. But that’s not going to be quite as easy as it might have been in years past. Thanks to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and his Police Chief, the oh-so-appropriately named Danielle Outlaw, there have been plenty of changes on the force.
For example, last August the police had been scheduled to see a 19 million dollar increase to their budget. But in the midst of the Summer of Love and all of the cries to defund the police, that increase was canceled and an additional 14 million dollars was cut from their budget and redirect to other “social services.” Officers were leaving in significant numbers and the percentage of violent crime cases that wound up being closed began to plummet.
Meanwhile, Chief Outlaw was more interested in emptying the jails than finding gang members who have been shooting up Philadelphia and putting them away. A January report from the City Controller’s Office found there had been a “lack of leadership at the highest levels” in the Police Department during the riots, leading to calls for Outlaw to resign. She refused and continued to have the support of the Mayor. Of course, she used to be the Chief of Police in Portland, Oregon and you can see how swimmingly things have been going there, so perhaps we’re detecting a pattern.
In February of this year, Philadelphia Weekly noted that the Philadelphia Police were effectively “defunding themselves.” In 2020, after Outlaw took over, 135 officers filed for early retirement, the second-largest number for any year on record. But in just the month of January of this year, another 114 turned in their papers. That one-month loss is more than the total of most entire years in the pre-Outlaw era. The linked analysis concludes that if this rate of attrition keeps up, the force will see “historic losses” unlike any the city has experienced before.
Perhaps it’s time for someone at City Hall to put all of those facts and figures together and start drawing some conclusions. Is “calling on the community” to end the violence really addressing the core issues? Or is a lack of leadership, funding and the will to actually protect the citizens of the city leading to the brazen surge in street violence? You do the math.