Philadelphia City Council renews call for state of emergency to combat gun violence

"If this is not an emergency, I'm not sure what an emergency is," said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

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Friday, September 30, 2022
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City Council argues that more than $200 million has been invested since last year and claim that the Kenney administration isn't acting quickly enough.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Members of Philadelphia City Council are demanding that Mayor Jim Kenney's administration act more quickly to use approved funding and to declare a state of emergency to combat gun violence.

Members spoke at the end of the council meeting Thursday and expressed concern that they aren't seeing enough results from approved funding to help reduce gun violence.

They argue that more than $200 million has been invested since last year and claim that the administration isn't acting quickly enough.

"We want the administration to look at where we are. We want to see a full blitz as it relates to resources," said Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. "We want to see it targeted to areas where we see the most crime at in the city of Philadelphia."

The Council renewed calls that started two years ago for Kenney to declare a public safety emergency to increase government collaboration as the city surpassed 400 homicides this week.

"I maintain that we need an emergency response to this issue. If this is not an emergency, I'm not sure what an emergency is," said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

Councilmembers are calling for a 90 to 100-day plan of action for the administration to lay out a plan for government agencies to work together.

"I'm just calling on everyone to put the individual agendas aside and stop working in silos and come together and really be about the work of the people," said Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson.

The mayor's office has pushed back to previous claims arguing it is quickly putting money to use for crime prevention tactics within communities, while providing a roadmap to work with federal, state and local officials.

"There's an urgent need to gather all these entities together to do something fundamentally different from what we've been doing before, because whatever it is not working," said Councilmember Helen Gym.

The mayor continues to call on state leaders to pass stricter gun laws.

He insists that a state of emergency or bringing in military support would not open up more funding or ease concerns.

Kenney previously told Action News, "What I think it could do is cause unintended consequences, cause more fear in our community, especially communities of color, already dealing with decades of systemic racism and poverty which we are committed to getting rid of."

Councilmembers also said during the meeting that parents and guardians have to be more involved.

"If you even suspect that a young person in your household was involved, you need to flip that mattress up, go under the bed, go in the closet. You need to run through that room and turn them in," said Councilmember Cindy Bass.

Action News has reached out to the mayor's office for additional responses. They released the following statement:

"We share City Council's urgency, and the Administration continues to address this issue from every possible angle we can to make our neighborhoods safer including this week issuing an Executive Order prohibiting guns at our City recreation centers and parks. During the summer, PPD had deployments at rec centers during daytime hours that were redirected to ensure safety around schools. However, PPD officers are still making periodic checks at rec centers, and any rec center where issues have been identified will continue to see an increase of officers patrolling in the area. In addition, we are working diligently to launch further expansion of our Community Crisis Intervention Program soon, along with implementing READI.

Our Administration is also working closely with the Governor's Office, Attorney General Shapiro and U.S. Attorney Romero on the issue of illegal guns. We welcome dialogue and assistance from Council and other partners regarding concrete actions to help keep Philadelphians safe.

Regarding the cameras, the City of Philadelphia, like so many other organizations, has seen the impact of supply chain issues that have affected the timing and delivery of services across the board, from envelopes to technology parts for cameras. Specifically, we are waiting on certain fiber optics, a critical piece of the cameras, that have been held up due to supply chain issues."