Philly to Install 100 Cameras Near 19 Schools Impacted by Gun Violence
Since last August, more than 500 people under the age of 18 have been shot in Philadelphia and 90 of them have died.
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia officials announced the city will spend $1.8 million to fund at least 100 new security cameras near 19 high schools and middle schools in high-crime neighborhoods.
During a press conference Monday, Craig Johnson, deputy chief of school safety for the School District of Philadelphia, said schools were chosen for the program based on information regarding gun violence around those campuses, reports ABC News. City Council President Darrell Clarke said he would introduce legislation this week.
The cameras will be placed along routes students frequently take to and from the 19 schools. The feeds will be accessible through the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center where Philadelphia police monitor crime in real-time. An additional $1 million will be added to the city’s operating budget to fund analysts to review the footage.
The cameras will be placed near Edison High School/Clemente Middle School, Mastbaum High, Bartram High, South Philadelphia High, Fels High, Lincoln High/Meehan Middle School/Northeast Community Propel Academy, Dobbins High, Ben Franklin High, Duckrey Elementary, High School of the Future, Frankford High, Kensington CAPA, Northeast High/Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Roxborough High, and Harding Middle School.
Mayor Jim Kenney said he hopes the additional cameras will make criminals think twice about carrying out shootings near schools.
“We need to create a culture of if you’re going do something, somebody might be watching you,” echoed city councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. “We want September to start with a different tone.”
City and district officials have also established a “safe path” program which pays community members to provide extra security for students on their way to and from four schools. Last month, the district began screening middle schoolers for weapons. All sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders in the district. The screenings will be conducted randomly by school safety officers.
Shootings on the Rise Near Philly Schools
The new project comes as shootings and murders in the city hit an all-time high. In 2021, 562 people were killed in the city. As of Monday, the city has recorded 227 homicides this year — 18 fewer than this time in 2021. Over 800 non-fatal shootings have also occurred so far this year, according to gun violence data provided by the city’s Office of the Control.
Some of the victims are teenagers who were shot near their schools. During the first two months of the 2021-22 school year, there were at least four shootings near school buildings and at least 35 students were injured or killed. In October 2021, a 13-year-old was killed on his way to school at E.W. Rhodes Elementary. A 16-year-old was also seriously injured and a 66-year-old male passerby was killed in a shooting outside Lincoln High School. In Jan. 2022, a 17-year-old Bartram High School student was shot and killed near the school shortly after dismissal.
More recently, in April, a 15-year-old boy was shot to death a block from Tanner Duckrey School when a gunman fired at least 20 shots. On May 17, a 16-year-old boy was shot seven times while sitting outside KIPP Philadelphia Charter School. A week later, three students, ages 15 to 17, were shot and wounded after leaving the Simon Grats High School Mastery Charter, according to ABC News.
“Youth being shot or being murdered almost on a daily basis doesn’t even garner that much attention,” Johnson said. “It’s almost like it’s expected or normalized and that’s a really sad place to be.”
So far this year, 94 people under the age of 18 have been shot in Philly — an 8% increase over the same time period last year, NBC Philadelphia reports. Since last August, more than 500 young people have been shot and 90 of them have died.