PHILADELPHIA - District Attorney Larry Krasner joined Good Day Philadelphia on Wednesday morning to address the rising homicide rate in the city amid claims from his opponents that he has been too lenient on violent offenders.
Krasner, who has served as District Attorney since 2018, believes the rise in shootings and homicides is not unique to Philadelphia rather an "unprecedented national issue." Like Philadelphia, Krasner says, many cities across the country are experiencing a spike in shootings and a dip in crime and violent crimes.
"Let's look at July," Krasner said. "There were 215 shootings in July. The police made 30 arrests. And we brought 30 cases. Look at August. So far, there are 209 shootings. The police have made 20 arrests. And we've brought 18 cases, right? They are making arrests, but let us be honest: When you have a solve rate – when you have what they call a clearance rate, meaning the police have identified the one who they believe is guilty – of 14 percent in July and 9 percent in August, there's more that we can do together."
One such collaborative effort that Krasner pointed to is the Philadelphia Police Department welcoming in Assistant District Attorneys to help investigate acts of gun violence and homicides.
Krasner believes the ongoing pandemic that has caused widespread hardships for individuals and families is partly to blame for the violence that has plagued the city.
"A lot of things that go toward prevention have fallen apart, we have massive unemployment, we have terrible poverty, we have schools that really don't function as they used to function," Krasner said. He also points out the difficult decisions made by the police force to ensure the safety of officers, including a moratorium on narcotics arrests put in place earlier this year.
United States Attorney William McSwain, one of Krasner's sharpest critics, has condemned Krasner for allegedly using the pandemic as an excuse for the rampant gun violence.
"This slaughter in our streets has largely been met with indifference, a sense of inevitability, or a shrug of the shoulders," McSwain said. "Or, as the District Attorney put it 'poverty equals bullets.' That condescending statement is a slap in the face to every law-abiding, low-income resident in the city."
Krasner called McSwain's comments a "misstatement" and clarified by saying that the map of poverty and crime in Philadelphia mirror each other. Krasner says the relationship between poverty and gun violence has is not new and was raging long before he took office.
Currently, the homicide rate in Philadelphia is up 31 percent from this point in 2019. To date, there have been 259 people killed at the hands of firearms. To resolve the rampant gun violence and killings, Krasner says more of an investment needs to be made in the city's education system and prevention.
"The reality is unless you invest in the prevention, then the police and prosecution are cleaning up the mess," Krasner said.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw remarked, "We agree with the District Attorney that there is more that we can do together. Increased collaboration with our law enforcement partners, including expanded access to each other’s proprietary data, will allow us to perform quality assurance reviews in order to identify areas in need of improvement. We all have a role to play in the criminal justice system, and an open and honest accounting of our processes benefits us all."
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