PPD to redeploy officers to high crime neighborhoods

PPD police
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks Thursday, Dec. 8, during a news conference.
Jack Tomczuk

Beginning next month, at least 100 police officers will be moved into neighborhoods experiencing the highest levels of gun violence, in what city officials describe as one of the largest redeployments in recent history.

The plan, unveiled late Tuesday afternoon, came just as Philadelphia hit 500 homicides for the second consecutive year.

Extra officers will be added to the 22nd and 25th police districts in North Philadelphia; the 24th district, which covers Kensington and Port Richmond; and the 39th district, spanning Nicetown, Tioga and parts of Germantown.

“Keeping our most impacted neighborhoods safe is our highest priority,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday at a City Hall news conference.

Deputy Police Commissioner John Stanford said the redeployment, set to start Jan. 9, will draw on officers currently assigned to administrative, non-patrol roles.

The reshuffling was based on data gathered by the PPD’s statistical unit, which determined that those areas needed more support. More than 40% of this year’s gun violence has occurred within the four districts, according to the PPD.

The move was made in conjunction with changes to PPD’s Operation Pinpoint, an initiative that focuses manpower in crime hotspots. Officials said the program will be undergoing a phased realignment.

Nate Willison

Stanford said the same number of Pinpoint areas – 45 – would remain but that the block grids would be readjusted to overlap with areas experiencing the most violence. New maps show the zones clustered in North Philadelphia and Kensington.

Residents and business owners in the grids should notice more foot and bicycle patrols, Stanford said, adding that the PPD will also be collaborating with state and federal partners to conduct in-depth investigations focused on those neighborhoods.

Earlier Tuesday, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, whose district is based in West Philadelphia, reiterated her call that Mayor Jim Kenney declare gun violence a public health emergency.

“We must treat it as the biggest crisis of our lifetime,” she said in a statement. Gauthier requested weekly media briefings and asked the Kenney administration to expand outreach programs citywide.

Through Monday, 500 people had been killed across the city this year, compared to 540 on the same date in 2021, a 7% decrease. But 2022 is still on track to be the second deadliest on record.

Additionally, more than 2,200 people have been injured in shootings this year, a slight decrease from this time last year.

Kenney, Outlaw and other city leaders also took time at Tuesday’s news conference to reflect on accomplishments from the year – such as the formation of a citywide nonfatal shootings unit and the launch of the 211 anti-violence hotline.

“I think that all the efforts we’ve been making, both policing and with community intervention, is beginning to turn the curve down in the other direction,” Kenney told reporters. “Obviously, this is not anywhere near where we want to be.”