Jun 23, 2022 - News

Philadelphia police prepare for summer violence uptick

Illustration of police lights shown through the shape of a police hat.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Philadelphia police are preparing to contend with the "busiest months" for violence in the city as the summer begins and warm weather draws more people outside, deputy commissioner Joel Dales said.

Driving the news: The Philadelphia Police Department will work with State Police to cover the most violent areas in the city, Dales said at a news conference Wednesday.

  • The department is also considering extending officer hours this summer, depending on staffing levels.
  • "As of right now, we are going to utilize everything we have available to us," Dales said during a city news conference Wednesday.

The big picture: The Police Department has hundreds of vacancies to fill and continues to struggle to attract and retain officers.

By the numbers: Shooting victims are up 8% year-over-year, reaching 1,068 as of Sunday, according to police. The non-fatal shooting victim clearance rate was 22% as of Wednesday, meaning four-fifths go unsolved.

  • Homicides have reached 245 so far this year, as of Tuesday. That's down 6% from the same time last year, as the homicide clearance rate is at 46%, according to police.
  • Carjackings, including attempts, reached 656, as of Wednesday, and are on track to surpass last year’s total (847), according to police.

Zoom in: PPD is seeing two growing trends in the city this year: The use of extended ammunition magazines, some of which can hold up to 50 rounds of ammunition, and attachments to make firearms fully automatic.

  • "This is why you see the high numbers of homicides because they're shooting at targets until they hit them," Dales said about the use of extended magazines.
  • The PPD has recovered 41 firearm attachments this year through Monday, according to police.

Between the lines: City legislators are poised to pass a $5.8 billion budget today that would funnel millions of dollars toward violence prevention efforts, security cameras, and more in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

  • Violence prevention spending would rise to $184 million in the proposed budget, an increase of 18% over last year.
  • The budget also would earmark $5 million in new funding for police forensics and $1.8 million for security cameras near schools.

What to watch: The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to advance a bill that includes enhanced background checks for those under 21, and incentives for states to put in place "red flag" laws, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Yes, but: Mayor Jim Kenney has already cast doubts over how much the new gun reform proposal in Congress would reduce gun violence in Philadelphia.
  • "Considering the gun laws in Pennsylvania compared to New York City, New York State, New Jersey and California, I don't think it's going to have much of an impact," he said during Wednesday's news conference.
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