What to Know Today
Philadelphia gun violence crisis sparks early start to mayor’s race. Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis, which has claimed record numbers of victims over the last two years and led some to call for the current mayor, Jim Kenney, to resign, has resulted in another record: four members of the City Council stepping down to prepare to run or consider a run for the Democratic nomination for mayor in the May primary. (City law requires elected officials to resign before they can seek another office.) Never before have so many on Philadelphia’s 17-member legislative body resigned to seek the office, say political observers. Local experts and new candidates agree, Mensah M. Dean reports in his first story for The Trace, that the top priority awaiting the next mayor is to find and implement strategies to stop the bloodshed. Read Dean’s full story here.
The FBI’s 2021 crime report is missing data from major cities. The agency’s annual crime report, released Wednesday, did not include a full year’s worth of data from nearly half of law enforcement agencies nationwide, Vox reports. Among the gaps: the two most populous cities in the country, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as most agencies in California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida, according to The Marshall Project. In lieu of the data, the FBI and Justice Department made estimates for those jurisdictions, concluding in the final report that murders rose 4.3 percent from 2020 to 2021, compared with a 30 percent increase from 2019 to 2020. The FBI switched to a new crime data collection program in 2021, and about 40 percent of law enforcement agencies did not transition to the new system, meaning that they could not submit data at all.
Armed man kills dozens at Thai day care center. On Thursday morning, a former police officer armed with a gun and knife launched an attack at a child care center in northeast Thailand, Insider reports. At least 37 people, among them 22 children, were killed, local officials told BBC News. Mass shootings are rare in Thailand — the last of this scale was in 2020, when a soldier armed with an assault rifle killed at least 29 people in a shooting spree — but gun ownership is relatively high compared with neighboring countries, according to CNN.
Police in Stockton, California, look for a potential serial shooter. Stockton Police have linked seven shootings to the same suspect, NPR reports. Six of the shootings were fatal. The attacks started in July and appear to be random. Police are working with the FBI, California Highway Patrol, several local sheriff’s departments, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to identify and capture the perpetrator.
Reimagining the way newsrooms cover gun violence. In 1965, a Philadelphia news director launched a show that would transform how local television stations across the nation cover crime: “Eyewitness News,” the first program that turned news coverage into a fast-paced mix of sentimental and sensationalized stories, and with it popularized narratives that racialized crime. The format disproportionately covered crime in Black communities, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a March feature, creating damaging perceptions that linger today. At a workshop last week, the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting asked journalists, researchers, and advocates to rethink the way the news media covers firearm violence. The solutions attendees came to included prioritizing community involvement in gun violence reporting, being sensitive to victims’ families in the immediate aftermath of a shooting, and potentially ending the crime beat entirely, Billy Penn reports.
Cleveland Police ask for $3 million to expand ShotSpotter program, but concerns abound. Body camera footage shows that Cleveland Police may be using the controversial gunshot-detection system to conduct unconstitutional stop-and-searches, WKSU reports. The news station obtained footage of nine cases in which police made an arrest in connection to a ShotSpotter alert. In at least one instance, according to a law professor, the search leading up to the arrest may not have been lawful. ShotSpotter’s claim that it can accurately triangulate the locations of gunshots has been called into question, The Trace reported last year, as evidence mounts that the system may be ineffective and lead to needless, sometimes deadly encounters with police.
1,044 — the number of people shot and killed by police in the past year. Police nationwide have shot and killed about 1,000 people annually since 2015, though that figure rose to 1,054 in 2021. [The Washington Post]