Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia has achieved the highest murder rate in the country, on a per capita basis, as compared to the 10 largest cities in the United States.
As of Thursday, 314 people had been murdered in the City of Brotherly Love so far this year, KYW reported.
Homicides are up 35 percent from the same time period in 2020.
The city has surpassed a number of prior total-year tallies, WPVI reported.
Murders so far in 2021 are higher than the full-year totals of six of the past 12 years.
In June, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney blamed the city’s murder rate on how easy it was for people to get guns and the fact it had also been a banner year for legal gun sales, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Kenney called on the federal government to solve the problem by enacting stronger gun-safety measures.
But more than one-third of the shootings so far this year have happened in the same five zip codes in North Philadelphia, indicating the homicide rate is more of a local problem, KYW reported.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has repeatedly blamed violence-plagued communities on current policing practices that he claimed caused a “traumatization of neighborhoods” and drove a wedge between law enforcement and the community they serve.
Some critics have pointed to low morale at the Philadelphia Police Department that resulted from the practically overnight changes to department policies in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 as one of the factors contributing to the rise in crime.
But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that’s not the case and that the police force was doing everything possible to put a stop to the gun violence, WTXF reported.
“It’s no secret that we’re experiencing one of the worst periods of violent crime in our city’s history,” Commissioner Outlaw said.
She said that the mayor wasn’t wrong in his assertions regarding guns and pointed out that part of the problem was criminals using guns that were not commercially manufactured, WTXF reported.
The police commissioner also said that most of the gun arrests made by her officers were repeat offenders who already have open gun cases against them but are out wreaking more havoc in the community while they were waiting for their cases to move forward.
“We need these arrests to stick. We need for there to be serious consequences because these folks have shown that there is no regard whatsoever,” Commissioner Outlaw said.
Her remarks pointed to Krasner’s failure to hold criminals accountable in the city since he was elected in November of 20017.
Critics have complained that the notoriously anti-cop district attorney has spent more time cracking down on police officers than criminals since he took office.
Krasner has released numerous convicted felons and has repeatedly stressed his objections to incarceration.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office defended its record, WPVI reported.
The office said that from January-to-May of 2021, they have made at least one arrest in connection with 36 of the 178 homicides that had been committed during that time.
That broke down to one arrest for about 20 percent of the murders in Philadelphia in the first five months of the year, WPVI reported.
Last summer, Krasner announced a plan to fight back against a spike in violent crime by embedding prosecutors in police stations and not prosecuting many other crimes, WHYY reported.
He said that his plan would allow police to focus on bigger crimes – not turnstile jumping or marijuana possession – and improve community relations, KYW reported.
“The record of this office now and the record moving forward will make it very clear,” Krasner said at the time. “You can decarcerate for non-serious offenses, which improves society, it improves prevention, while you simultaneously save the necessary hammer of law enforcement for those who are killing and hurting other people.”
Community activist Bilal Qayyum said that the city needed to lock down the neighborhoods where the shootings continue to occur, WPVI reported.
“If a shooting takes place in a certain neighborhood, you go in and you lock down that neighborhood. Now, that is not comfortable with some folks, but you close down the drug houses, close down the gambling houses,” Qayyum said.