Philadelphia officials hope children's summer programs help reduce violence

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- City leaders are working to save lives on the streets of Philadelphia by stopping gun violence before it has a chance to erupt.

The work continues to decrease the gun violence epidemic in the city. The police department says as of April 25, there have been 626 shootings, 159 of those were homicides.

Officers say compared to last year, homicides are up 33% and shootings are up 37%. Police say they will continue to increase patrols and do their part to keep the city safe, but they are also calling on the community to take action.

"I encourage those who want to see change in their police departments to be the change. Join our ranks and be a change agent in our department and within your community," said Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

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City leaders say a big factor in reducing crime over the summer will be providing kids with activities to keep them out of trouble. The pandemic forced many programs to shut down in 2020, but this year will be different. Many in-person activities are returning, like community pools, summer programs, camps and more.

"These types of activities are lifelines for our kids and we believe that keeping children and youth engaged in dynamic summer experiences will help keep them safe and reduce community violence," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

Police say many crimes involve children under the age of 18 and say they will ensure all summer venues have extra police presence. Safety for the community with an emphasis on the children is a top priority.

"We want to make sure our youth use these as safe havens because in many cases, places like these are the only safe places that they have," said Outlaw.

"It is really about giving families and the community confidence that you can send your child to a recreational facility and have the confidence that they are going to be safe," said Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa.

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