PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw is speaking on the spike in homicides in the city as a 15-year-old boy is among the latest victims. With the city’s sheer amount of murders, the question of burnout is an important one for those who work in the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit.
Seven souls were killed in the City of Philadelphia on a bloody Monday, while figures show the homicide rate is 55% higher right now than this same time last year. More than 60 people have been killed so far in the city in 2021.READ MORE: Philly Police Identify Suspect, Edward Prince, Wanted In Fatal Hit-And-Run That Dragged 60-Year-Old Feet Nearly 300 Feet
What’s driving the surge in killings, where a firearm was used in 9 out of ten cases?
“It’s very difficult to tell, honestly, because it could be a Thursday, it could be a Monday, any day of the week,” said Capt. Jason Smith who heads the department’s homicide unit. “Homicides have evolved where they’re occurring on all tours of duty.”
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HAPPENING NOW: Philadelphia Police say sharp uptick in homicides on Monday alone, with 7 people murdered, is “baffling.” There are more than 60 killings in 2021, and Commissioner Danielle Outlaw says the trend is most witnesses are not coming forward. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/w6saDToD2s
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) February 9, 2021
Smith spoke at length at an afternoon news conference about the unit’s restructuring to spread out among detectives the city’s increasing volume of homicide investigations.
“We have to do what we have to do as far as handling live investigations. We don’t want the caseload per investigator to be over a certain point,” Smith said.
Commissioner Outlaw indicated the pandemic, stay-at-home orders and virtual learning were among aggravating factors in swelling homicide counts.
“As it relates to, again, more people being inside, children, elders, everyone, there’s very clearly a theme,” Outlaw said.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson demanded urgency in addressing the gun violence epidemic
“We gotta do a better job and all hands on deck in addressing this issue of senseless gun violence that we’re seeing in our communities,” the councilman said.MORE NEWS: Fire Crews Rush To Battle 2-Alarm Blaze At New Castle County Apartment Complex
When it comes to closure rates, the police commissioner points out that fewer eyewitnesses have been cooperating with the department.