PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Mayor Jim Kenney has formally denied requests for an emergency or disaster declaration for Philadelphia's growing gun violence problem, according to a letter obtained by Eyewitness News.
The letter, dated Monday, was sent to Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier. Mayor Kenney cites points made by Councilwoman Gauthier as poignant, such as requesting transparency in the administration's fight against gun violence, but ultimately denied the request.
"But, after serious consideration, I believe the simple declaration of some emergency or disaster akin to that signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the state of New York is not a solution that will demonstrably change conditions in Philadelphia for several reasons," Kenney writes.
Mayor Kenney cited multiple reasons for not agreeing with a declaration, including:
- The City of Philadelphia allocating $150 million to additional resources for the 2022 fiscal year;
- The city continuing a "coordinated" response to citywide violence, "dating back to the release of the first Roadmap to Safer Communities in 2019;"
- Discussions with President Joe Biden "on the urgent need for new and enhanced approaches" to the ongoing violence.
The mayor mentions in the letter he would like more funding from the state government to address illegal guns as well: "The City would welcome additional state resources and changes to regulations that stem access and the flow of illegal guns. I have discussed this with the Governor directly, and my Administration is working closely with Attorney General Shapiro on the issue of illegal guns."
Councilwoman Gauthier is disappointed with the mayor's response.
"It sounds to me like the mayor is saying we're doing enough when clearly we aren't. Our residents are crying out for help, and as elected officials and as government officials, we have a responsibility to support them and to make sure that we're doing everything we can every day to make sure that they're safe and to save lives," she said.
Gauthier says the city needs conflict intervention, longer hours for rec centers and libraries, and help for people affected by gun violence.
Philadelphia reports more than 2,100 shooting incidents so far this year, with 33% more homicides than 2020. Over this past weekend, there were more than 30 shootings, prompting the Philadelphia District Attorney to call for an end to cash bail.
Read the entire letter here: Ltr from Mayor Kenney re emergency declaration 7-19-21
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