PHILADELPHIA — Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) today issued the following statement on Philadelphia reaching 500 homicides in 2022:
Today, the City of Philadelphia marks a tragic record– it is the second year in a row that our city has witnessed 500 homicides. That means there were three violent deaths every two days in 2022. Each of the 500 individuals lost this year is much more than a statistic—they are a family member, a friend, a neighbor, and their loss reverberates through entire communities.
“I am appreciative of the City’s efforts to address gun violence, which has resulted in 40 fewer murders than this same time last year. However, Philadelphia is still experiencing extremely elevated gun violence levels, unmatched by anything we saw during the ten years preceding the pandemic.
“And while all Philadelphians have a role to play in addressing this crisis, City government is central in that effort. I am glad for the considerable investment that the City has made in gun violence prevention, but we cannot treat this as simply another problem. We must treat it as the biggest crisis of our lifetime. For this reason, I have not stopped calling on the Mayor to declare a public health emergency to address gun violence in Philadelphia.
- The Mayor must provide at least weekly briefings to inform the public of the city’s ongoing efforts to combat this epidemic, in a manner similar to the City’s daily COVID updates.
- City agencies must meet daily to discuss a collective approach to addressing gun violence and problem solve collaboratively.
- Gun violence initiatives must be implemented with a greater sense of urgency and speed. For instance, we should have long ago expanded the amount of paid outreach workers interfacing in neighborhoods to quell violence and mentor those most at-risk. Yes, the program has faced problems, but in an emergency, we problem-solve as we go.
- We must act expeditiously on the studies from Dr. Eugenia South and others that show that place-based interventions matter greatly in reducing gun violence. All public services, from cleaning, greening, and lighting, to recreation and trauma services must be directed to the blocks, zip codes, and people who are most directly impacted in this moment.
- Finally, I call on the Mayor to more fully mobilize Philadelphia’s dynamic economy – the private sector, academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and the nonprofit community – to tap into an incredible wealth of resources to combat this problem.
“We know exactly where violence is happening and who it is happening to. We have a good sense of the indicators—as laid out in the 100 Shootings Review, among other studies—and of approaches that will work. All that remains is a will to act together as if this is the most important issue our city faces.
“At this point, three mayoral candidates have taken up our call for our emergency order – they vowed to implement it on their first day in office. I appreciate that the idea has traction and am grateful to the mayoral candidates who are committed to doing more to fight gun violence. However, we have a year left in the current administration and we should not miss the opportunity to bring as many resources as possible to addressing this problem every day for the year that we have left. Each of the 500 individuals lost is an irreplaceable citizen of our great city, and it is in their names that we must work until every neighborhood is free from the plague of gun violence.”
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