PARKSIDE - Millions of people across the country, including in the Delaware Valley, participated in National Night Out, the annual event with the goal to build and improve the relationships between police and the communities they serve.
A party atmosphere surrounds National Night Out 2021, but paused, at times, by the honest acknowledgement of a city in crisis as the number of homicides surpassed 320 August 1st.
Lester Lowery, of Overbrook, hopes so. He was out with sons Noah and Lucas and is tired of the violence.
"Sleepless nights, always thinking about it. I know it’s taking a toll on them. Taking a toll on everybody in the community," Lowery explained.
"I am so worried. I pray every day. You have to pray and ask God to help us with this," Parkside resident Francena Washington stated.
"It’s frustrating, it’s draining. It’s hurtful, to be honest," 18th Philadelphia Police District Captain Matt Gillespie said.
Captain Gillespie says they’ve never been busier and firearms arrests are peaking, but he says accountability is dangerously absent.
"It’s 303 firearms arrests in the 18th District in two years and only two have done state prison time. That’s .6/7th of one percent," Captain Gillespie added.
"We are working every day and every way we can to reduce this problem," Mayor Jim Kenney commented.
Mayor Kenney says citywide, crime prevention and intervention efforts were delayed by the pandemic, but now, they’re back up and running.
"We’re meeting with young people all weekend. Weekends long, at night" Mayor Kenney explained.
"In recent weeks, we’re starting to see slow, steady decline in these sharp increases we saw at the beginning of the summer," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Commissioner Outlaw danced the Cupid shuffle on stage, smiling and connecting with the community. She says building trust is an important part of the solution.
"In order for us to have strong relationships with the community, they want to know who we are," Commissioner Outlaw added.