Philly police ‘can’t keep up’ with rising homicide rate, Outlaw says

A Philadelphia police officer walks past the scene of a shooting in LOVE Park. A 29-year-old man was killed. A security guard for Christmas Village has been charged

File photo: A Philadelphia police officer walks past the scene of a shooting in LOVE Park, where a 29-year-old man was killed on Nov. 9, 2021. A security guard for Christmas Village has been charged. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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The homicide rate in Philadelphia continues to rise higher than last year – which was a record year for homicides, although those numbers are slowly declining.

Currently, 121 people have been killed in Philadelphia since the beginning of the year, up 2% from last year.

The crime numbers are counter-intuitive: there have been fewer shootings than last year, but more of those shootings have resulted in deaths.

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In their bi-weekly update on gun violence in Philadelphia, city officials admitted that the homicide rate in areas identified as hot spots of violence by the police department’s targeting Operation Pinpoint prevention program is actually rising.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said homicides in the Operation Pinpoint grid are roughly 41% higher than last year.

“The truth is the homicides are not happening in a vacuum – there are those out there who are determined to attack and kill their victims,” Outlaw said. “While we are making constant adjustments to mitigate this sickening reality, our officers, simply put, just can’t keep up by being everywhere at all times.”

One of the problems, Outlaw said, is she has fewer officers. The police force is about 10% below full recruitment. Mayor Jim Kenney said the city’s efforts to recruit more officers are “handcuffed” by a city law that says new hires have to have lived in the city for at least a year before applying.

“If council members are requesting that we increase our police force, they got to take the handcuffs – so to speak – off our ability to recruit,” Kenney said.

Outlaw urged residents to call 911 to report any information related to crime, and to take advantage of the breadth of resources available to people impacted by crime on the city’s 211 hotline.

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

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