Bouncy houses, food, and first responders were aplenty during the sixth annual First Responder Appreciation Day at Clara Muhammad Square on Wednesday.
The event aims to encourage first responders to create relationships in communities with the hope of reducing violent crime in Philadelphia.
City Councilmember-at-large David Oh said in areas where events were hosted previously, the communities want “visible and responsive policing.”
“Even when there’s trepidation about, you know, what’s going to happen after I call the police, how are things going to go? But people are locked up in their houses,” Oh said. “They worry when her kids go out to play basketball or when someone has to go to work and stand at a subway station or at a bus stop. And now today, especially with just the wanton random murders, they want to see visible performance.”
The Philadelphia Police Department has been dealing with shortages of officers on top of the increasing amount of gun violence this year. In March, the Philadelphia Police Department had less than 6,000 sworn officers. In 2015, the department had approximately 6,600.
PPD 16th District Captain Chanta Herder says despite this, the department is doing what it can to serve the public.
“I know it’s a tough time within the city of Philadelphia,” Herder said. “We are facing a lot of gun violence, but just rest assured that our officers, our supervisors… we’re out here and we will not rest until we have some type of resolution on this gun violence.”
At the same time of the gathering, a press conference was being held in West Philadelphia addressing the shooting near Shepard Recreation Center Tuesday night. According to our news partner 6abc, 96 shots were fired and five people were injured Tuesday evening.
So far this year, 308 people have died as a result of gun violence within the city.