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By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Grieving families are pleading for change as Philadelphia reaches a grim milestone of 300 people murdered this year.

Mothers fill a tiny room in Philadelphia with pictures of loved ones lost.

“Every Thursday, we have a group support meeting,” said Dorothy Johnson-Speight, with Mothers In Charge. “We come together to share our pain, to talk about our grief.”

That grief is shared by 300 mothers.

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Authorities say 2017’s homicide count is a 13 percent jump from 2016 and the first time in five years homicides tipped the 300 mark.

Debra Kennedy is the face of a mother behind one of those 300. Her son James was murdered in August.

“He was so sweet. So free loving. So fun. He was a very charismatic guy and I’ll miss him a lot,” she said.

“Obviously we’re very concerned about these numbers, and there are real people behind these numbers,” said Commissioner Richard Ross, with the Philadelphia Police Department.

And so Commissioner Ross has taken new steps, including creating an intelligence bureau which gathers intel on crimes, increasing the number of bike patrol officers for quicker response times and most importantly, improving communication between the department and the community.

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“You gotta cultivate those relationships with those communities because when you have that, you’re hopeful you’ll get the type of information that will help you save lives,” said Ross.

“To see the numbers continue to grow and see more and more families coming to us because they had to bury a son or daughter. It’s so very, very painful,” said Johnson-Speight

Despite the higher homicide rate, shootings have decreased by about five percent year over year. The commissioner says, unfortunately, this year they just happen to be more deadly.

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