More Philly police officers needed, Outlaw says

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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks to reporters during a press conference earlier this month.
Jack Tomczuk

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday she needs more officers in the department’s ranks, as Philadelphia’s homicide count for the year has already surpassed 100.

Shuffling around officers and closer collaboration has allowed authorities to make more arrests for the most serious crimes, but recent redeployments aren’t sustainable, she said during a virtual news conference.

“The redistribution of administrative and special unit personnel to uniform patrol is just a short-term solution to a problem that will become much bigger if we aren’t able to recruit and retain more qualified officers into our ranks,” Outlaw told reporters.

She said the PPD is recruiting through the end of the month. For more information, go to joinphillypd.com or call 215-683-2677.

Dispatchers are also needed. The application period closes Friday, and details are available by clicking “Explore City Jobs” at www.phila.gov.

So far in 2022, police have “cleared” or made arrests in 51% of homicide cases, up from around 42% during the previous two years.

Outlaw credited reworking patrols based on data and intelligence, as well as forming special violent crime task forces and the creation of a non-fatal shooting unit to work with homicide detectives.

Over the past two weeks, investigators have apprehended 10 murder suspects, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Ben Naish.

Among those arrested was 21-year-old Elijah Parrilla, who was taken into custody last Friday in connection with the Jan. 23 fatal shooting of Jimmy Rodriguez, 23, in Hunting Park.

Authorities believe Parilla got into an argument with Rodriguez inside a store on the 4500 block of N. 7th Street and shot him multiple times.

Also last week, on March 9, police arrested Saleem Williams, 26, a day after he allegedly killed 61-year-old Louis Anthony Graham inside the bedroom of a house on the 4800 block of Springfield Avenue in West Philadelphia.

Naish said a domestic altercation appears to have sparked the violence.

Through Tuesday, 103 homicides had occurred in Philadelphia this year, up from 102 at this point in 2021, when the city experienced its highest murder toll.

More than 400 people have been shot, which is also slightly more than in March of last year.

“The past several weeks have been very difficult for our city with an unconscionable amount of violence taking place,” Outlaw said. “As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted… I’m hoping that, as a community, we can return to a form of normalcy.”

Most recently, on Tuesday at around 7 p.m., Stephen Houston, 30, was gunned down while holding a baby on the 4900 block of Hawthorne Street in Frankford, according to authorities.

The child was not injured, but Houston died at Temple University Hospital a short time later. No one has been arrested.

“That was not a random shooting,” Naish said Wednesday. “That was a targeted individual shooting.”

PPD data indicates that argument is the leading motive for this year’s homicides, involved in 33 deaths. Detectives blame drug disputes for 17 killings and domestic violence for eight.

Overall violent crime in Philadelphia is up 2.6% compared to this point last year, and total property crime has experienced an 11.4% increase.

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