Officials hope for a less violence-filled 2022 in Philadelphia

Shown is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and City Hall in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021.

Shown is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and City Hall in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

As the worst homicide year for the city of Philadelphia draws to a close, city officials say they are working hard to prevent a repeat in 2022.

Mayor Jim Kenney said it wasn’t an easy year when it comes to the violence that has swept through the city.

“The $155 million expenditure is less than a year in … and we will continue to plug away at it, and try again with other types of opportunities, [including] our lawsuit against the commonwealth, so we can get some common-sense gun laws and control moving forward. … I’m hoping that ’22 will be a better year than ’21.”

Senior Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice Erica Atwood said they are dealing with COVID as they try to do work on the streets.

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“We have expanded opportunities for vulnerable youth by opening two new community evening resource centers, expanding intensive prevention services, and connecting youth in the community service and restitution program with positive community youth mentors through our next generation task force.”

Atwood said they plan to use a new way, pioneered in Chicago, to address some of the most vulnerable.

“We have already launched our feasibility study and landscape analysis with the goal of replicating the READI Chicago model system in Philadelphia, which will better coordinate it and expand existing resources for extremely high-risk individuals to connect them with positive influences, meaningful careers, and trauma supports. The pilot of this program will be implemented in mid-2022.”

Atwood adds the city is also working with the legislative caucus in Harrisburg to allow for stricter gun regulations for Philadelphia than the rest of the state.

Mayor Kenney said the police department has been working hard to remove illegal firearms from the streets.

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“PPD has taken a record number of guns off our streets this year. We’re on track to remove about 6,000 crime guns from our streets. There’s a 40% increase from two years ago. Each of these guns off the street is one less to use to harm or kill someone.”

Kenney said it’s not just the job of the police department to solve the violence issue.

“We simply cannot and will not tolerate this violence. Our residents and visitors deserve to feel safe, and our police are committed to solving these crimes. We know that much, much more needs to be done to protect Philadelphians in every corner of our great city. It will take all of us working together: the criminal justice system, all levels of government, community and faith organizations, the business community, and residents to create a safer city.”

COVID has also played a part in the violence issue, said Kenney. “A lot of this has to do with the mental mindset of everyone based on 20-some months of this pandemic lockdown, masking, vaccination, death. I mean, a lot of this has exacerbated the situation. And I thought we were getting through into a better place with COVID. But apparently, we’re going to weather another tough winter without the same amount of weight. I think it’s indicative that there’s going to be as much death as there was in the beginning. But yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of tough times going through, and I wish I had magic answers to everything I would have employed by now,” said Kenney.

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