Philadelphia City Council is Baffled: Why is Violent Crime on the Rise?

Philadelphia City Council is Baffled: Why is Violent Crime on the Rise?
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

We have previously noted that the Philadelphia City Council, in response to the ridiculous #BlackLivesMatter protests, canceled a scheduled funding increase for the Police Department, and that the Editorial Board of The Philadelphia Inquirer didn’t want any federal help dealing with the increasing violence and lawlessness in the City of Brotherly Love.

And thus we come to this story in yesterday’s Inquirer:

As shootings climb, Philly City Council asks: Where is the urgency?

by Chris Palmer | Updated: August 12, 2020 | 3:46 PM EDT

With shootings spiking to levels not seen in years, Philadelphia City Council spent more than an hour Wednesday expressing frustration about vague or imprecise answers to questions about how much the city was spending on aspects of antiviolence programming, how many people were being impacted by those programs, and what metrics were being used to determine success.

During the second day of a virtual emergency hearing to address the gun violence, councilmembers wondered if too many agencies that can play a role in violence reduction — in law enforcement, social services, and behavioral-health counseling — were operating independently of one another and without a sense of a city in crisis.

“We don’t feel the overall level of urgency when it comes to addressing this issue with everyone,” said Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.

“If gun violence is a priority for this administration, then every department has to talk the talk,” said Councilmember Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez.

We also noted that the city council makeup has moved further left, and now the council are shocked, shocked! that things aren’t going well.

Other testimony focused on how the city’s probation and parole department interacts with people under supervision, and how illegal gun cases are handled by the criminal justice system. Kevin Bethel — a former deputy police commissioner who now oversees safety for the School District — said he was troubled by how widespread gun possession has become despite hundreds of arrests each month for carrying illegal weapons, a possible sign that those with guns aren’t afraid of potential consequences.

Well, duhhh! Robert Stacy McCain reported on the problem:

Two years ago, left-wing billionaire George Soros wrote a $1.45 million check to Larry Krasner’s campaign for district attorney of Philadelphia. This is a gigantic sum to spend on a local election, and enabled Krasner to defeat six rivals in the 2017 Democrat primary, then coast to a landslide victory in the general election. Krasner ran as the anti-police candidate, and has made it his official policy to turn dangerous criminals loose on the streets of Philadelphia. One of the beneficiaries of Krasner’s policies, Maurice Hill, had an extensive criminal record — drug charges, aggravated assault, perjury, fleeing and eluding, escape and weapons offenses — before he engaged in a shootout Wednesday in North Philadelphia that wounded six cops. This incident resulted in a statement from Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney William McSwain:

What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement — a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive.

Where does such disrespect come from?

There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner — and I am fed up with it.

It started with chants at the DA’s victory party — chants of “F*** the police” and “No good cops in a racist system.”

We’ve now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement — the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even “war criminals” that he compares to Nazis.

This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger. It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney. And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.

The alleged shooter last night, Maurice Hill, is a previously convicted felon with a long rap sheet. We have plenty of criminal laws in this City — but what we don’t have is robust enforcement by the District Attorney. Instead, among other things, we have diversionary programs for gun offenses, the routine downgrading of charges for violent crime, and entire sections of the criminal code that are ignored.

The criminal laws in this City — and especially the existing gun laws and drug laws — should be aggressively enforced in order to protect the public and the police. My Office is doing all that we can. We have prosecuted 70% more violent crime cases this year than we did last year, in response to the District Attorney’s lawlessness. But it is now time for the District Attorney and his enablers to stop making excuses for criminals. It is time for accountability. It is time to support law enforcement and to put the good people of this City first.

To be fair, Mr Hill wasn’t the beneficiary of Mr Krasner’s policies; he had been convicted of perjury in 2013, before Mr Krasner was elected, and Judge Rayford Means, who has been on the bench since 1992, well before Mr Krasner was elected, was the one who decided not to revoke Mr Hill’s probation.

The “gun control” that should have applied to Mr Hill would have been the gun control that he was still locked up. When James Hohmann, of The Washington Post’s wrote “it’s a challenge that policymakers must grapple with as they debate new forms of gun control,” the answer is, and has always been simple: when you have criminals in custody, you keep them locked up for as long as the law allows.

For District Attorney Krasner, that’s the wrong thing to do. Why might it be that Mr Bethel believed “that those with guns aren’t afraid of potential consequences”? Because with leftists like Mayor Kinney and Mr Krasner in charge, the potential consequences are minimal.

The Inquirer article noted that the Violence Prevention Office was established in 2017, under Mayor Kenney when he first came into office. What the article did not note was that, under the previous Mayor, Michael Nutter, and his Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey, the murder rate declined. Since Mr Kenney took over, the number of murders jumped 13.72% from 277 to 315 in Mr Kenney’s first year (2017), then 12.06% the next. There was very little change between 2018 and 2019, but as of August 11th, the rate was 30% higher over the same day last year,  260 vis a vis 200 in 2019, and more than the entire year’s totals in 2013 and 2014.

The City Council wants to know what the problem is? It’s simple: the problem is the leadership of Philadelphia, from the Mayor to the District Attorney, to Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, to the City Council. That, after all, is what changed. You don’t mollycoddle criminals; you hunt them down and throw them in jail. Former Mayor Nutter knew that, former Commissioner Ramsey knew that, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who cleaned up New York City, knew that. But somehow, some way, the left do not, and the results are out there, bleeding on the streets.
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