PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Is Philadelphia a safe city?
In a one-on-one interview with Action News' Sharrie Williams on Wednesday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said yes.
"It is, but it has its pockets," she said. "People want to hear me say, 'No it's not safe.' You'll never hear that from me because there's a lot of places all over the city, all times of the day, all times of the night, where we can go about and be human beings and do what we usually do. Unfortunately, what we've seen, not just this year but in the last couple of years, we've seen increases - serious increases - in certain areas of crime."
Outlaw said her men and women in uniform are facing unprecedented challenges but they have not backed down.
"It doesn't mean we've stopped doing what we need to do. It doesn't mean we haven't communicated to our partners what we need from them. It doesn't mean that we don't have a plan. We rolled out a plan in June 2020 and we recognize we have to be agile and adapt and we haven't stopped we've been full throttle since," she said.
Non-fatal shootings are up, and as of Wednesday afternoon, the city of Philadelphia has reached a record-breaking 555 homicides for the year.
"Homicides are a problem," Outlaw said.
The commissioner said her office rolled out a plan in 2020 centered on organizational excellence, crime prevention, and community engagement. She said the plan is data-driven and it's working.
"When we wrote a plan in 2020, it had strategic objectives clear on who was responsible for what, how information would be shared, all the way down to the line-level officer and that was something we haven't had. We have seen some short-term successes in five particular districts and in Kensington."
Regardless of the situation, Outlaw said she leads with the heart.
"All I can continue to do is be who I am and make sure we lead from this department with compassion and empathy and recognize that numbers aren't just numbers they are people and lives impacted," she said.
But many want to know: What is the message to the bad guys and bad actors?
"No one wants this to happen under our watch. It is very frustrating but at the same time, instead of demoralizing us, we use this to continue to motivate us to go hard or go stronger and be louder about the things that need to get done we are one part of the criminal justice wheel just one part," Outlaw said. "When people begin to feel the bad people are taking over and no one's in charge and the bad people are in charge, that we really need to look at roles and responsibilities who is responsible for what continue to identify any gaps in the system."
Outlaw said her department cannot solve the crime crisis on its own.
When asked about her relationship with District Attorney Larry Krasner, Outlaw described it as "professional."
"If there's an issue, again, that I've identified, I have not shared anything publicly that I haven't said, behind closed doors," she said. "I can't speak for the district attorney or his prosecutorial decisions that are made, all I can do is make sure that our stuff is tight on our end."
The commissioner also stressed her department has confiscated a record number of guns off the street.
As for priorities in 2022, Outlaw said she is focused on more health and wellness initiatives to support her officers, additional forensics to solve cases, more federal collaboration with the Department of Justice and ramping up the youth advisory council so young people have a direct seat at the table.