Police Commissioner Ross talks climbing homicide rate on Good Day

- Philadelphia has seen more homicides this year than in any other in over a decade, as a particularly violent summer morphed into a deadly fall.

Mayor Jim Kenney has declared gun violence a public health emergency.

Police data shows that there have been 333 homicides in the city as of Sunday. That's an 11 percent increase over the same period last year and the most since 2007.

On Wednesday, police announced the arrest of four people in connection with a quadruple murder in Southwest Philadelphia last month.

On Thursday morning, a man was found stabbed to death in Kensington.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross joined Good Day Philadelphia on Thursday to discuss his department's long-term response to the climbing homicide rate.

"It's more than one reason," said Ross said, trying to get at the cause. "Clearly we always deal with this senseless argument that leads to gun violence, inexplicable things that most people won't even necessarily fight over, let alone decide to end someone's life."

One item of concern, per Ross, is the increased number of killings with motives rooted in narcotics.

"They're up significantly in certain parts of the city. Certainly some of it's driven by the opioid crisis, and the market that's there. But, believe it or not, in certain parts of the city we're seeing an uptick in marijuana-related violence – drug sales of marijuana. And so, some of it's not new, but the drug aspect is somewhat different."

The mayor's Office of Violence Prevention recently reviewed city-funded community-based violence programs and what could be done to improve them. It came away with three main findings:

  • Invest in more violence prevention programs
  • Improve coordination among city departments and agencies
  • Develop clear violence prevention strategy and metrics

In September, Kenney ordered his staff to come up with strategies to tackle the crisis like a public health emergency. The administration's plan is expected to be released in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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