Senator Anthony Williams (D- Philadelphia/Delaware) organized a roundtable discussion. Officials met for over an hour to discuss a mechanism to organize community prevention, intervention, and enforcement efforts to combat gun violence.
"We need to do more to support our communities and to end the crisis of gun violence. Building a coordinated response is a critical step, so I thank Sen. Williams for leading this discussion today," said Gov. Tom Wolf. "Together, we can create real solutions on how we can better coordinate with communities to get the tools and resources needed to reduce gun violence to the places that need it most."
Williams said that he envisions the creation of an intergovernmental task force or existing committee that will have the capacity to measure the impact organizations are having at reducing gun violence at the city and local level, and also examine and approve organizations for future resource distribution.
"Law enforcement and community groups have been speaking together, loud and clear, to demand immediate action. It’s time to stop with thoughts and prayers," said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. "My office is using every resource available to us to stop the trafficking of firearms into our state and to hold these individuals and organizations accountable. Our Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force, which has recently expanded thanks to support from the Commonwealth, works across agencies to stop the flow of guns into our communities."
Philadelphia to date has experience 154 homicides since the start of 2021, which represents a 31% rise from April of last year. In 2020, Philadelphia recorded a devastating 499 homicides, the most in over a decade.
The sharp rise in gun violence caused federal and local law enforcement agencies to come together to form the "All Hands on Deck" initiative to use any means necessary to track down and arrest violent offenders.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Department of Homeland Security are among the 15 investigative branches that signed onto the task force.
The joint initiative was announced in early April at a press conference lead by U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams and backed by a cohort of federal and local law enforcement agents. She offered a stern warning to violent offenders in Philadelphia.
"To anyone who might be thinking about picking up a gun in order to shoot or threaten or intimidate someone, I warn you: The moment you commit the violent crime you will feel dread like never before because we are coming after you," Arbittier Williams said.
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