"We all have a role to play": Commissioner Outlaw responds to ongoing gun violence in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw joined Good Day on Friday to discuss the city's ongoing battle with gun violence and steps that must be taken to reclaim and preserve the safety of the city.

As of midnight Friday, homicides in Philadelphia have gone up 33 percent from 2019's number. So far in 2020, the city has tallied with 286 homicides which is 74 more than August of 2019. It's also more than the city saw in all of 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. 

Outlaw, who took over as police commissioner in February, says she believes that the Philadelphia police force is just one piece of the equation, and communities and city leaders must play an active role in squashing the rash of gun violence. 

The commissioner also answered questions from FOX 29 viewers that ranged in context from parental guidance to parole for repeat violent offenders.

"How come criminals can keep committing crimes and just get released and just continue?" one viewer asked.

"I have conversations with the DA, we meet with his staff regularly. We make very clear, look we're getting (on average) about 77 guns off the street every week. We're seeing a lot of these shooters as repeat offenders. We're seeing a lot of these victims as someone that has been an offender before or been shot before," Outlaw said. "At what point, and again I'm not talking out of both sides of my neck, at what point do we say some of these folks need to go to jail and stay in jail."

Outlaw went on to say the district attorney is just a part of the process.

"There has to be consequences. The DA is but one part of it. We need to look at all prosecutorial bodies, we also need to look at who needs to be prosecuted at the federal level," she added. "I know a lot of folks are looking at me to point fingers or to point blame. We all have a role to play in this criminal justice system. We're a part of it, we are doing what we can. We are making the arrests, but we have to ensure that other folks are held accountable in the same way.

Outlaw says she is not averse to the criticism she has heard during her tenure in Philadelphia, but acknowledged that sneers won't help the eliminate the spate of violent crimes.

"We all have a role to play, I'll be a sounding board, but at some point it's one thing to spout off some pretty hateful things but I'm really not for it if you're not for solutions." Outlaw said. "Come to the table, you can say what you want, say what you need, but at this point, children are dying, people are hurt. It doesn't fix anything." 

After she was asked if that criticism ever weighs on her, Commissioner Outlaw revealed it doesn't stop at criticism, and that she's even received threats. 

"It can. Quite frankly I've had death threats. I've had racist death threats, I've had misogynist threats, you name it. All the 'isms' come out and given that it's 2020 we want to say that we're forward-thinking, and you know, all of that stuff is in the past – no it's not," Outlaw said.

She went on to recall one email, in particular, she received from someone.

"I received a nasty email from someone saying 'I need you to do something about this person breaking in my car.' They sent video, and then they realized that they actually used some pretty racist expletives in describing this person when they sent the video. Three days later they responded back and said 'I'm sorry for the language that I used,' probably not realizing that I was African American as well," she recalled

"It's like, I'm calling and I'm asking you for help, but at the same time, I'm using the n-word in describing this person, not realizing the impact that might have on me, and the officers that would be responding to help this person," Outlaw added. "So we've got to get our heads together, we need to be aligned, and we need to all move together with the same sense of urgency around what we are experiencing in our communities as residents here."


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