Darrell Clarke

City Council President Darrell Clarke says, “It’s particularly reprehensible when gun violence happens anywhere near a city playground or recreation center which has happened too frequently over the past year.” —TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

Legislation was introduced in City Council on Thursday to increase the city’s capital budget by $1.8 million to pay for new security cameras to be placed near city recreation centers and playgrounds that have experienced incidents of gun violence.

The new Safe Play Zone security cameras would be equipped with 360-degree views and technology to better assist Philadelphia police in their efforts to safeguard city recreation centers and playgrounds.

The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Cindy Bass, D-8th District, at the request of Council President Darrell L. Clarke, D-5th District, would add $1.8 million to the capital spending plans for fiscal year 2022.

Clarke said conversations this summer with Philadelphia Police Department officials, along with ongoing gun violence at or near recreation centers and playgrounds across the city over the past year, led to the introduction of the legislation to fund new security cameras with enhanced technologies and abilities to view surrounding areas in a 360-degree arc.

“Any gun violence or shooting anywhere in our city is a terrible thing,” Clarke said in a statement.

“But it’s particularly reprehensible when gun violence happens anywhere near a city playground or recreation center — which has happened too frequently over the past year. We need our playgrounds and rec centers to be safe havens for children and families. These enhanced security cameras and improved technologies will better equip police and law enforcement in their efforts to keep these locations safe.”

Bass said the bill can only make the city better.

“As the Parks and Recreation Committee chair, I know how much our neighborhoods need better cameras, allowing residents to feel safer while enabling police to do better for our communities,” she said. “In areas where violent gun crimes occur in public parks near our children, putting resources, such as this $1.8 million, is a step we’ve been waiting for and it’s a step we need.”

“The safety for all that use our city’s playgrounds and recreational centers is paramount to the Philadelphia Police Department,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

“Recently, we have witnessed brazen shootings at or near recreational sites with no regard to those in the vicinity. In an effort to curb and deter future violence, the installation of 360-degree cameras will support and increase our existing SafeCam efforts,” she said. “Enhancing security camera coverage and technology serves as an important crime prevention and investigation tool to ultimately keep our city a safer place for our youth and families.”

Several fatal shootings, along with non-fatal shootings, have occurred near or on city playgrounds or recreation centers over the past year, including centers in West Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia and Kingsessing.

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