City Hall: Virtual Town Hall Discusses Philadelphia’s Gun Violence Crisis

Councilmember Allan Domb (top right), Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (bottom) and Senior Director of Criminal Justice & Public Safety Erica Atwood (top left) discuss the City’s plan to combat gun violence.

With homicide rates soaring in Philadelphia, city officials are formulating initiatives to combat the gun violence epidemic.

Councilmember Allan Domb hosted a virtual public safety town hall on Mar. 16 to address the gun violence epidemic and the fatal impact it is having on the city’s neighborhoods. 

The councilmember was joined by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and Senior Director of Criminal Justice & Public Safety Erica Atwood to discuss gun control and crime reduction strategies. 

“The purpose of this town hall tonight is to bring together our city’s public safety leaders and to start an open dialogue so the community can have a voice,” Domb said. 

Domb’s opening remarks paid tribute to the lives lost inflicted by gun violence and to commemorate the families that are experiencing the trauma of losing a loved one.

“In addition to COVID-19, we are fighting another epidemic, gun violence,” Domb said. “It’s the primary contributor to Philadelphia’s increasing homicide rate that is already up 30% over last year. More than double the rate since five years ago.” 

In 2020, Philadelphia recorded 499 homicides, as reported by the Philadelphia Police Department

Now, only months into 2021, there has been 114 homicides reported as of Mar. 27. 

Outlaw spoke at the town hall to discuss her 30-page plan she launched last summer. 

“We rolled out the Crime Prevention & Violence Reduction Action Plan in June of 2020 as a holistic and collaborative approach to addressing violent crimes,” Outlaw said. “It’s not just a bullet point line-by-line plan that focuses on solely what we are going to do within the realm of crime prevention and reduction. It’s actually more than that. It balances crime prevention, community engagement, organizational change and social justice reform.”

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw discusses the Crime Prevention & Violence Reduction Action Plan. (Iris Wexler/PN)

Outlaw’s plan is an overarching expansion of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Operation PinPoint, a strategic crime-fighting initiative that is targeted to reduce crime through evidence and data-driven information, under the crime reduction and prevention plan.

The plan has now expanded to over 40 districts in Philadelphia neighborhoods that experience the highest crime rates. 

With warm weather approaching, City officials fear the rise of violent crimes and homicide rates. 

In a Q&A abut Outlaw’s crime prevention plan, questions concerning the danger of ATVs, dirt bikes, and motorcycles arose.

Outlaw responded by stating that these automobiles are a public safety concern, and in response the PPD plans to instill a form of traffic control within the next six weeks. 

Atwood spoke at the event to discuss the overview of the police department’s vision, structure, and plans of realigning the public safety system in Philadelphia. 

“The steps to creating safer neighborhoods are through our programs of prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry,” Atwood said.

Atwood discussed the programs and resources the Philadelphia Police Department has created in response to the city’s gun violence epidemic.

Some of the programs and resources Atwood discussed included the Community Crisis Intervention Program, Group Violence Intervention, Office of Criminal Justice, Town Watch Integrative Programs, and The Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities. 

Atwood concluded her presentation by summarizing the Philadelphia Police Department’s step-by-step collaborative approach to promoting safer communities. by stating, 

“How are we, looking at the neighborhood level and what’s happening in that neighborhood” Atwood said. “Then block by block, how are we looking at what is happening and making sure folks on that block get what they need if they are experiencing any of the negative quality of life issues?” 

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