Councilmember pushes back on DA, police, calling Philly gun violence 'emergency situation'

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Another gun violence hearing was held Monday in Philadelphia City Council as shootings and homicides continue to break records. Both the police commissioner and district attorney were in the hot seat.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said as the number of homicides gets closer to an all-time record, and with more than 2,000 people shot, police officers are taking more guns off the street even as, she said, they have drastically reduced vehicle and pedestrian stops.

“For the past five years, arrests for gun possession or VUFA (violation of Uniform Firearms Act) continue to steadily increase, the convictions have decreased and VUFA withdrawn and dismissed cases have increased,” Outlaw said.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner pushed for funding for new gun forensic technologies while highlighting a lack of witness cooperation in the courtroom, which essentially disables prosecutors from proving who possessed the gun in any specific case.

“Police do everything they can. They are not always going to get proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but to the extent we can increase that,” Krasner said.

Speaking directly to Councilmember Derek Green, Krasner said, “You were a prosecutor, councilmember, and I say that respectfully. You know that is what the goal is here. The goal is not just to get guns off the street. The goal is to obtain a conviction with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and that is where we are trying to go."

Green pushed back, saying a lack of witness cooperation was nothing new, and he peppered both Krasner and Outlaw for how they were spending their budgets.

“I am going to take a much different approach going forward in how we use dollars because we are at a point now that we have an emergency situation and we are not treating it as such,” Green said.

Council also heard from community groups and victim advocates.