Philadelphia officials call for stronger action to combat rise in gun violence

The focus of this plan is on the 14 zip codes in the city most impacted by shootings.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As the number of shooting victims continues to rise in Philadelphia, elected officials are at odds on what to do to stem the tide of gun violence.

Members of the city council and the controller are calling for Mayor Jim Kenney to fund a new eight-point violence prevention program. The demand comes one day after he declined to declare a gun violence emergency in Philadelphia.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia police responded to five separate shooting incidents. Five people were killed.

"If we continue on this trajectory this year, we could reach 575 homicides this year. We can't let this happen," said City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart.

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Rynhart and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier want Kenney to allocate some of the $150 million budget set aside for gun violence prevention into a new plan.

"Rec center programs and extended hours, trauma services, workforce development programs from the commerce department, these are all examples," Gauthier said.

The eight-point plan also includes:

  • Expanding the Community Crisis Intervention Program and expanding staff.
  • Formalizing a Gun Violence Emergency Response Team to meet daily and develop, implement and measure strategies to respond to gun violence hot spots; providing weekly updates.
  • Allocate $20 million in additional anti-violence funding from the FY22 budget toward programs that employ credible messengers to reduce gun crime.

The focus of this plan is on the 14 zip codes in the city most impacted by shootings: 19144, 19141, 19120, 19124, 19140, 19134, 19133, 19132, 19121, 19131, 19104, 19139, and 19143.

RELATED: Triple shooting leaves 2 teens dead in West Philadelphia shooting as violent 2021 continues
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A growing number of community activists are urging the city to take action following a triple shooting that left two teens dead in West Philadelphia.

Kenney said declaring a gun violence emergency is only symbolic and would not change the progress already being made.

"A local declaration will not unlock new funding. We've already done that," he said.

Kenney declared gun violence a public health emergency two years ago, but some elected officials say now is the time to ramp up efforts even further.

"Everyone can tell we're not doing enough. It's not enough to point to a plan several years ago and say, 'look this is our answer,'" said Gauthier.

Gauthier and Rhynhart are asking the mayor to announce an implementation plan for this proposal by July 30.

A spokesperson for the mayor released this statement in response:

"The Mayor is glad to hear the Councilmember is not focused on semantics, and that the recommendations she's presented are closely aligned to the work the administration is already undertaking to continue our response to the national public health emergency that gun violence presents. The Mayor looks forward to continuing to work with colleagues on City Council to continue to respond to this crisis."
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