As Philadelphia’s homicide toll reached 79 yesterday – 10 more than in the same period last year – Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said he would send at least two high-level commanders to Chicago to study the techniques that helped that city’s homicide rate fall by 25 percent in one year, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnson said the department wants to look at how Chicago uses video surveillance cameras to monitor high-crime neighborhoods. Philadelphia is experimenting with cameras as a crime-fighting tool in one park.
Chicago officials are interested in looking at Philadelphia’s Safe Streets program. “As law enforcement people, we share information,” Johnson said. “Every city does something different.” The City Council yesterday called for a citywide referendum on whether Philadelphia should be able to make its own gun laws to prevent and reduce gun violence. Now, all such laws must be made at the state level. The May 17 the referendum is nonbinding and would require state legislative approval. Johnson said that of 18 recent killings, 11 victims were armed with guns. “A lot of people who are being shot have criminal records, and they’re putting themselves into the position to be shot or killed,” he said.