We ended 2021 with 562 homicides and we just ended 2022 with 516 homicides. Philadelphians should not have to fear being the victim of a violent crime. Reducing violent crimes and crime in general requires a combination of strong non-bias prosecution, along with well-funded prevention programs. In addition, we must move to “Ban Ski Mask” in Philadelphia. The ski mask has emboldened criminals and provided them with a sense of security, in regards to making it more difficult to identify them by eyewitnesses or cameras.
We must hold gun shops that have a history of illegal sales and straw purchases of guns accountable. According to an examination of Pennsylvania firearms tracing data by the gun control group Brady, the most comprehensive analysis of its kind in decades: “From 2014 to 2020, six small retailers in south and northeast Philadelphia sold more than 11,000 weapons that were later recovered in criminal investigations or confiscated from owners who had obtained them illegally.”
Given this research, we must put public pressure on these locations and find ways to better regulate how gun shops operate within our city limits. I will establish a Digital Town-Watch Program by providing cameras registered with the PPD Safe Cam program to commercial businesses and residents in key intersections throughout the 9th District. This will be very similar to the program that Atlantic City currently uses with great success.
I support increasing our police force to reflect the diversity of the demographic that they serve. Our police are out gunned and out manned. I will support all means and measures to grow a more diverse, highly trained, and well equipped police force. I fully support following all of the recommendations presented by the Controller’s Office, under former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. In addition, we need an elected police review board in every district to ensure public trust with the increase of officers.
My office will work with the District Attorney’s Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, State Police, and community stakeholders to help citizens in the 9th District to address neighborhood problems. This includes, but is not limited to, nuisance bars and stores, dangerous properties, public dumping, abandoned cars and houses, illegal parking, open air drug markets, businesses illegally serving minors, and neglectful landlords.
We also must focus on the truancy problem in our schools. It is known that chronic truancy tends to lead to juveniles being involved in criminal activity. ‘55,586 of the 115,000 students in Philadelphia were chronically truant during the 2021-22 school year’, which is 48% of students based on the district’s records. We must use every resource available and ensure that our school district has the funding to decrease chronic truancy. Considering that we are experiencing an uptick in juvenile crime, I believe that engaging with the students that are frequently truant is the best way to prevent future criminal activity with these youth by getting them in programs or eventually holding the parents accountable by fines for their chronically truant child.