Philadelphia police captain expressing frustration over gun violence surge

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- An officer with the Philadelphia Police Department said he is using social media to show the community some of the things the department is doing to fight gun violence, along with keeping people informed on the entire criminal justice procedures.

"I'm frustrated on many levels," said Matthew Gillespie, captain for the 18th police district.

Gillespie said he has been on the force for almost two decades. He said this year, the city has seen a rise in shootings in his district, mentioning in 2019 there were 61 shootings and this year there have been 105.

"I'm frustrated for the community because they're frustrated, and I genuinely feel their frustration. I spend more time in this community than I do in my own," said Gillespie.

Gillespie said part of that rise can be attributed to the pandemic. Still, he said he and his officers in his district are working hard to curb the gun violence.

Members of the community Action News spoke with said they want to see more of a collective effort in the new year.

"Hopefully in 2021, everybody from the community- from the police, from the district attorney's office, the mayor's office, and the judges, in particular, will all be working together to reduce shootings and violence in the City of Philadelphia," said Bilal Qayyum, president of Father's Day Rally Committee.

Action News reached out to the district attorney's office, which said they are working in close collaboration with the police department.

"The District Attorney's Office fully shares the Philadelphia Police Department's goal of improving its 46% clearance rate for homicides and 16% clearance rate for nonfatal shootings this year. Our prosecutors and detectives are working in closer collaboration than ever with the department to ensure the strength and integrity of shooting investigations and cases, starting well before a case is even brought to trial," said the district attorney's office in a statement.

Our data journalism team looked at gun possession arrests in Philadelphia in 2020 and found the most arrests were made in the 35th district.

Gillespie said there are multiple agencies in the city that can enforce punishments when needed to help stop criminals.

"Ultimately the blame for this is the individual that's carrying a gun, that's who the blame is for, and I always think the criminal justice system is something that actively needs to be constantly looked at and reevaluated, all the parties involved in it," said Gillespie.
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