Philadelphia Police Staffing Shortages: How It Impacts Crime

In this original piece, we cover police staffing shortages in the city with PPD, SEPTA PD and Temple PD


Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw is on the record telling the public about the Philadelphia Police Departments staffing shortages. In a March presser with Attorney General Josh Shapiro and other local police chiefs, Commissioner Outlaw announced that her police department has about 900 open police positions available. In an April interview, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby said the vacancies are well over 1,000 Officers. 

The Philadelphia Police Department is not the only Philly law enforcement agency struggling to staff its force. SEPTA Transit Police Union President Omari Bervine has said that SEPTA Police is down about 50 police officers. Bevine says this causes a serious public safety and officer safety issue for SEPTA’s ridership and their police officers. SEPTA, along with the rest of the city, has seen a significant increase of crime on the transporation network that includes some recent high profile rapes, robberies, shooting, and homicides. 

The policing problem in Philly doesn’t stop there. Temple University Police Association President Alec Shaffer has also been outspoken with the media regarding Temple University Police Departments officer shortages. In a March interview with CBS3’s Joe Holden, President Shaffer says that TUPD’s officers have worked over 30,000 hours of overtime to cover patrol operations.The police staffing crisis was also covered in by Inside Higher Ed. President Shaffer told reporters that they need about 60 more police officers. Shaffer feels the lack of police officers on the street is causing a rise in violent crime. In fact, reporter Joe Holden was preparing to do a live shot on this story when a shooting broke out just two blocks away at Broad and Susqehanna. 

Temple University Police Association (TUPA) made a tweet over the weekend that yet again sparked up the conversation about staffing at Temple Police Department. TUPA President again talked with Joe Holden at CBS3 and Jenni Joyce at Fox29. Shaffer says their overtime hours are now well over 41,000. Shaffer also says that the staffing situation has not improved at all and that the university is cooperating with the union.

Along with the logical inference that more police officers on the street deters crime, there’s plenty of research to support the claim. An 8 year study of NYPD police surges that ended in 2012 found that more cops on the beat utilizing basic police patrols for visibility and presence was all that was needed to reduce crime in New York City. 

Everybody in Philly is talking about crime, shootings, and carjackings. Everyone is searching for complex solutions to address the city’s gun violence crisis but few want to recognize a logical solution. Hire more cops. Incentivize the job, just like every other profession competes for employees, so should law enforcement agencies. If the city police and other philly law enforcement agencies can fully staff their departments to just the basic number needed, we’ll see gun violence, and crime in general drop.

2 thoughts on “Philadelphia Police Staffing Shortages: How It Impacts Crime

    1. The research suggests the police are not as effective at solving or preventing crime because there isn’t enough of them to do so. In Philly for instance, how can a non fatal shooting be properly investigated without the resources to do so?

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