On the day before Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker and Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel announced a sweeping public safety plan, a shooting shattered the peace in West Philadelphia during a large celebration marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The April 10 shooting during the Eid al-Fitr gathering near one of the city’s largest mosques underscored how unpredictable and explosive Philadelphia’s gun violence can be, even as shootings are trending downward.

It was in that context — and during the week of her 100th day in office — that Parker released the plan, which she and Bethel said would boost the number of police officers on the beat engaged in community policing, usher in a new era of greater reliance on data-driven policing, and strengthen partnerships between police and community members.

Citywide, there were 68 fatal shootings and 206 nonfatal shootings as of April 10, compared to 93 fatal shootings and 369 nonfatal shootings at the same time last year. The total number of homicides is down more than 30 percent, to 77 as of April 10, compared to 115 at this time last year.

Parker’s 53-page 100 Day Report acknowledged that the improving statistics are far from a success. “Statistics tell us that homicides and shootings are down this year compared to last year. What those numbers leave out is that last year marked the city’s fourth-highest number of homicides in 30 years,” she wrote. “We have much more work to do to make Philadelphia the safest big city.”

Parker campaigned on driving out lawlessness and making Philadelphia safe by using every legal means necessary, including more police stops of residents, a practice derided by some as racially biased stop-and-frisk policing. Neither she nor Bethel directly mentioned stop-and-frisk policing at the April 11 announcement.

“We’re trying to change culture. Culture’s difficult,” Parker said, speaking in a public school auditorium packed with city officials, police officers, and community leaders. “Culture makes people uncomfortable when you’re trying to change it.”

Bethel, during an interview, said police stops are a key part of policing and are being done lawfully and are monitored through a court order. “We direct our men and women to go into some of the most challenging, most violent areas. … And yet, the more we do that the more there’s a higher risk of having these contacts,” he said. “Part of our work to reduce violence in the city [means] we have to go where the violence is.”

Parker’s goal is to hire 400 new officers a year to close a gap of nearly 1,200 officers until the department’s 6,380-officer capacity is met.

Bethel emphasized modernizing the police force through technology, including giving officers body cameras that automatically turn on when they pull a Taser or gun. Philly Stat 360, a data-based accountability model, will drive tactics and data-driven accountability by documenting successes and failures. Officials said they will continue Operation Pinpoint, a data-driven patrol strategy, which will help Philly Stat 360 coordinate priorities while reaching the neighborhoods most affected by crime.

Parker also said Thursday that the city had recently reached an out-of-court settlement with Polymer80, Inc. and JSD Supply, Inc., which make or sell 90 percent of the ghost guns confiscated at city crime scenes. Ghost guns are home-assembled, unserialized, and untraceable firearms that are often sold and purchased online.

The settlement, the city said in a Friday press release, will require Polymer80 to stop selling all products online and in stores in and around Philly for four years, and pay the city $1.3 million to address getting illegal guns off the streets. 

Shannon Farrell, president of the Harrowgate Civic Association, was among the many civic leaders who came to hear Parker and Bethel. She was heartened to learn about the settlement. “That was exciting, because I know when I talk to police officers about the violence, they say that ghost guns are a big part of that,” she said.

On January 2, Parker’s first day in office, she signed an executive order declaring a public safety emergency. Savannah Marion, who lost her son La’Van Wilson, 24, to gun violence last September, said she is pleased that the city under Parker has already begun cleaning up the open-air drug areas in her community of Kensington.

Philadelphia resident Savannah Marion attended Parker’s speech on public safety. Marion displays a locket with a picture of her son, who was shot and killed in September. Mensah Dean for The Trace

But she believes the Police Department needs to do more than send more officers into the community. “I don’t want to say anything bad about the police, but I’m a very observant person. I’ve seen them on the job, and I see them always on their phones and sitting in their cars when these people are doing whatever they want to do,” she said. “They need training, and they need to be walking around doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

When told of Marion’s comments, Bethel said: “Yes, the officers have phones. They may see them on their phones. Yes, we’re going to change operationally. For a long time they’ve been asked to let that activity continue. That model will change.”

Under the plan, officers will be instructed to engage with community members through basic activities like “park and walks” and business corridor security checks. Footbeats across the city will be expanded, staffed mostly by newly graduated officers. 

As Parker and Bethel shared their plan, the community continued to vent frustration over the Eid shooting. “Why is there shooting at or in the vicinity of an EID??? This is absolutely ridiculous!! Philadelphia is ridiculous !!,” one poster said on the No Gun Zone Facebook page.

While some 1,000 people were celebrating Eid in a park in the Parkside neighborhood, two factions of young people began shooting at each other, with two sustaining non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, Bethel said. A 15-year-old boy who was armed with a gun was also shot in the shoulder and the leg by a police officer who then transported him to the hospital in stable condition. In addition to that teen being in custody, three males and a female were also arrested, and police recovered five handguns, the commissioner said. Of those arrested, he said, four were juveniles and one was an adult.

During the chaos, Bethel said, a 15-year-old girl was struck by a police vehicle and sustained a fractured leg.

“We know that the majority, 99 percent of the individuals at this event are good people who wanted to have a good time,” Bethel said. “And once again, we have young people engaging in gunfire who really destroyed the sanctity of what happened.”

This story has been updated to include more details about the settlement.