The Philadelphia Police Department recently ordered its officers to be on extended overtime duty for 12-hour shifts this upcoming weekend to combat summer spikes in gun violence.
According to a department spokesperson, the PPD will deploy officers for 12-hour patrol shifts instead of the standard 8-hour shifts — adding four hours of overtime to officers’ schedules — to deal with the staggering surge in crime.
“PPD leadership has announced that all officers assigned to patrol operations will have their tours extended by four hours this upcoming weekend,” police spokesperson Officer Miguel Torres wrote in an email. “This extension is to provide an increase in officer availability in order to bolster the department’s crime-fighting efforts.”
The move comes after 28 people were shot — eight of which were fatal — between Friday, September 9, and Sunday, September 11.
“We had a lot of homicides and shooting victims, 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,” Deputy Commissioner Joel Dales said at a recent press briefing.
The first two weekends of September saw a marked increase in gun violence in the city, including 23 homicides and 100 shootings. The levels were on par with those in 2021, which broke Philly’s historical homicide records.
Combatting gun violence has been a priority agenda item in the city over the past year.
Indeed, the city passed a budget in July allocating nearly a billion dollars to the PPD for recruitment, pay raises and anti-violence programs.
But it’s not just gun violence that is plaguing the city. Total crime has risen by 7% compared to the same time last year, the most common crimes being robberies and carjackings.
Through May alone this year, the city recorded 546 carjackings — more than in all of 2020.
The police department’s overtime mandate also comes amid staffing shortages faced by the department following a wave of resignations and early retirements over the past few years.
PPD officials say that the department’s staff, which is currently 300 officers short of its intended budget, could dip to lower than 6,000 officers, thus necessitating more overtime.
However, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, which represents the PPD, reassured officers that they wouldn’t be forced to work overtime if they had pre-existing vacation days or other days off during that time period.
“The department has said this will [patrol extension] will not occur every weekend,” the union added.