Mayor and police express optimism in dealing with gun violence

Officials gave an update on ongoing gun violence prevention, along with discussions on curfews and lawsuits against state and/or federal government about guns.

Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at a press conference

File photo: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Working on a solution to gun violence and want to share it? Get in touch with gun violence prevention reporter Sammy Caiola here.

As the fiscal year draws to a close, Philadelphia’s mayor and law enforcement officials gave an update to members of the press about violence prevention measures.

Mayor Kenney began by looking towards the future, citing the 2023 budget, which will be finalized tomorrow. “We’re pleased to see that the latest budget for FY 23, agreed to [by] City Council, will fund an expansion in violence prevention as we’ll invest more than $184 million to make our community safer,” said the Mayor.

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Deputy Police Commissioner Joel Dales answered questions about preventative measures. “We had a significant increase in curfew enforcement this year in comparison to last year,” he said. He called curfews “effective,” especially in terms of protecting young people.

“As of year to date, we are seeing a decrease in shootings that pertains [sic] to juveniles,” he said. “I’m not going to say where because I don’t want to jinx it. We are going to continue to use this tool to assist us throughout the year.”

Referencing the upcoming Wawa Welcome to America and Fourth of July events, Dales said that there will be increased police presence in and around various events.

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Dales also said that areas included in Operation Pinpoint have seen a slight rise in shootings, but a slight decrease in homicides.

Mayor Kenney expressed continued frustration with the state and federal government response to gun violence; in a response to community activist Sajda “Purple” Blackwell, the Mayor said that there are several lawsuits in the works. These lawsuits come after a loss at the Commonwealth Court.

When asked about a return to in-person pressers, Mayor Kenney said that virtual panels allow more participants to hear from more officials, “as many people at a high level of government on the same page; on the same screen as possible.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources here.

Sam Searles is a Report for America corps member covering gun violence and prevention for WHYY News.

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