May 16, 2023
As summer nears, and more people head outside, Philadelphia officials are anticipating the spike in violence that typically accompanies warmer weather.
To deter bloodshed, police officers that are generally assigned to the city's schools will begin patrolling recreation centers and pools in areas with high propensities for violence or those where nearby shootings have recently occurred.
Some recreation centers will have officers stationed there; others will have roving officers, WHYY reported. All rec centers will have log books that officers are required to stop by and sign throughout the day.
"We don't have enough resources to cover every pool, so we prioritize them," Deputy Commissioner James Kelly told reporters at a news conference Monday. "But every pool will get a lot of visible, rotating coverage if they don't have a steady unit."
Police also will increase patrols in four districts that account for 43% of violent crime in the city – the 22nd, 24th, 25th and 39th, NBC10 reported. These districts cover Strawberry Mansion, Kensington, North Philadelphia and Germantown.
Through Monday, there have been 152 homicides this year, a 14% decrease from the same point in 2022, according to police data. There have been 640 shootings, statistics from the City Controller's office show.
"I can spout out numbers all day long. But if someone, a child, whomever — a mother, parent — still doesn't feel safe in allowing their young person to walk to the corner store or to go to school or go to play in a place that is supposed to be designed to be safe for them, it really means nothing," Police Commisioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Philly police are also working with communities to organize activities for children and teenagers to keep them safe and away from trouble, KYW reported.
"We can't do any of this without the community," First Deputy Commissioner John Stanford said. "As a part of that, Commissioner Outlaw has directed us to have the community relations bureau be more involved."
On top of activities organized by the police, such as the Police Athletic League and Police Explorers Cadet program, the city has several activities and programs available throughout the summer, including camps, summer jobs, and summer enrichment intervention prevention services for at-risk youth. A complete list of the city's summer programs is available here.
"We believe that keeping children and youth engaged in dynamic summer experiences will help keep them safe and reduce community violence," Mayor Jim Kenney said.
In April, the city began installing more than 100 security cameras at 14 city parks and recreation centers to combat gun violence and help investigate crime. Since 2019, more than 300 shootings have occurred at Philadelphia rec centers, police said.