PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Jim Kenney is under more pressure to declare a state of emergency on gun violence in Philadelphia as the city sees historic numbers of shooting victims and homicides.
During Wednesday’s gun violence briefing, he remained unwavering on why he won’t make that disaster declaration.
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“It’s no secret that we’re experiencing one of the worst periods of violent crime in our city’s history,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
The crime numbers are dizzying and the increase in shooting statistics are historic.
“Our number of shooting victims are up 33% over the same time last year. And to date, there have been 1,289 shooting victims, 123 of these shooting victims are juveniles, 17 years of age or under,” Outlaw said.
Just last week, the city hit the grim milestone of 300 homicides so far this year — 309 as of this crime briefing on Wednesday, with a triple shooting involving teenagers resulting in a double homicide just before the update began.
“I called the rise in gun violence a public health emergency and our administration has been working on evidence-based interventions to stem the tide of violence,” Kenney said.
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There are rising calls for Kenney to declare a state of emergency on gun violence in Philadelphia, but he has doubled down on why he does not believe that label will change anything.
“I do not believe that a local emergency declaration will have any benefit for Philadelphia,” Kenney said. “Gov. [Tom] Wolf and I have discussed the potential for a state order, like in New York. And we’ll continue those discussions. But a local declaration won’t unlock new funding, we’ve already done that.”
Police gave more of a glimpse at some of the most heinous crimes the city has seen in the last week, including the shooting of a 1-year-old baby who was in his mother’s arms inside a convenience store in West Philadelphia when a gunfight broke out.
Kenney says Philadelphia is one of 16 major cities working with President Joe Biden to stem the rise in gun violence, knowing every minute of every day could equal more loss of life.
“We know residents are afraid, afraid to attend cookouts or go to basketball courts, afraid to let their kids play outside. I heard it on my corridor tours, I hear it at community meetings, I read your emails. I hear you and it truly breaks my heart,” Kenney said.
While the city has seen more than 1,260 shooting victims as of July 18, officials did tout some good news about crime gun recoveries. There have been 3,364 guns recovered so far this year, a 37% increase since last year.
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For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.