Despite having an alarming 300 deaths so far this year in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney said he will not declare a citywide emergency for gun violence. Kenney´s main argument holds that a declaration would have no impact in strengthening his administration’s current anti-violence initiatives.
According to nbcphiladelphia.com, last year, city council approved a resolution introduced by councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) calling for Mayor Kenney to declare a citywide emergency due to the gun violence crisis.
In a letter sent to Gauthier on Monday however, Kenney stated that he would not make the city emergency declaration.
“I agree with you that the public deserved greater transparency and communication about the administration’s commitment to anti-violence and I’m pleased that these are now occurring,” Kenney wrote. “But, after serious consideration, I believe the simple declaration of some emergency or disaster akin to that signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo for the state of New York is not a solution that will demonstrably change conditions in Philadelphia for several reasons.”
The Major knows that calls for a disaster or emergency declaration are meant to unlock additional resources. However, he said the city had already done so by allocating over $150 million to gun violence prevention in the recently approved 2022 budget.
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“This money is independent of the hundreds of millions of dollars the City already spends on solving some of the deeper root causes of violence,” Kenney wrote. “The funding does include over $20 million in money for community-based organizations working to intercede and stop violence before it occurs, and substantial new funding for job opportunities for those at the highest risk of committing or being a victim of violence.”
The circulation of illegal guns seems to be an issue of great relevance for addressing the violence situation. He said his administration “is working closely with Attorney General Shapiro on the issue of illegal guns.”
From his point of view an emergency declaration would not result in a more coordinated response to gun violence. “The reality is that our Administration has been working to address violence in a coordinated fashion for several years, dating back to the release of the first Roadmap to Safer Communities in 2019, with further refinement with the updated Roadmap release this past April,” the Major wrote.
No discernible impact
Kenney also acknowledged that there were areas to improve and that he planned on deepening the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s coordination and reporting role in their efforts against gun violence.
“That said, a disaster or emergency declaration would have no discernible impact on strengthening what is already a highly collaborative and innovative approach to addressing this public health crisis,” Kenney wrote.