The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Police Department said it will deploy officers on 12-hour patrol shifts this weekend — instead of the typical eight-hour shift — as the late summer surge in gun violence continues to put the city on high alert.
“PPD leadership has announced that all officers assigned to patrol operations will have their tours extended by four hours this upcoming weekend,” PPD spokesperson Officer Miguel Torres said in an email. “This extension is to provide an increase in officer availability in order to bolster the department’s crime-fighting efforts.”
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner Joel Dales attributed the mandatory overtime to an onslaught of violence last weekend, when 28 people were shot between Friday morning and Sunday night, eight of them fatally, according to police data.
”We had a lot of homicides and shooting victims,” Dales said, “so we want to make sure we can put things in place and make sure that … we have sufficient personnel to continue to cover our problematic areas.”
In the first two weeks of September, the city experienced a staggering 23 homicides among 100 total shooting victims, putting September on track to be as deadly as the summer. Shootings and homicides remain roughly on par with this time in 2021, when the city saw a record-breaking number of homicides. Overall violent crime has gone up about 7% citywide from this time last year, driven largely by a marked increase in robberies, particularly at gunpoint, according to department statistics. Carjackings have also risen historic levels.
Amid the ongoing surge in gun violence through the pandemic, the department has been hampered by staff shortages, driven by record resignations, early retirements, and even officers exploiting a disability program, among other factors. Even so, it remains rare for the department to mandate longer weekend shifts across the city.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the union that represents the city’s roughly 6,500-member department, assured officers that preexisting vacation time and other days off will be honored, meaning no officer will be forced to come to work if they already took off.
“The Department has said this will [patrol extension] will not occur every weekend,” the union said in a statement.