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Penn Police Station, located on the 40th block of Chestnut Street, on Feb. 8. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

City Council President Darrell Clarke introduced legislation that would establish a new chief public safety officer position to coordinate the city’s crime and safety response.

Clarke introduced the legislation on Feb. 16, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The director will be among the city government's top four administrative positions and would work closely with the city’s mayor, managing director, and finance director. 

Philadelphia’s rise in gun violence and number of homicides made crime and public safety a defining issue for city politics. The push for the creation of this new position comes after 516 people were killed in the city in 2022, including 217 children, according to CBS News. 

“I think it’s time for us to do something differently,” Clarke told CBS News. “If you expect different outcomes, you have to approach it in a different way.”

The director will manage the budget, operations, and development of Philadelphia's public safety response as well as tangential agencies such as the police department, the fire department, prisons, and emergency services.

According to the City Council of Philadelphia Weekly Report, the new position will seek to address the challenges jurisdictions face when handling rising gun violence. 

After noticing that collaboration among different cities’ agencies significantly reduces gun violence, the council hopes to implement a solution that enhances communication and coordination across sectors, according to CBS News. 

“We know we need better coordination and collaboration in how Philadelphia departments and agencies respond to gun violence,” Clarke told the City Council. “A Chief Public Safety Director — whose chief responsibilities include fostering better collaboration among all relevant agencies in our city — is a policy initiative well worth trying.”

Because the legislation creating an Office of Chief Public Safety Director requires a change in the Home Rule Charter, it must be approved first by two-thirds of the council and then by Philadelphian voters in the May primary. 

The resolution accompanying this legislation details how other cities — like Chicago, Columbus, and Newark — have created similar positions to facilitate more collaboration between city agencies.

“I think it’s clear that having a person who would report directly to the mayor … would show that [safety] is one of the most significant and important issues in the city of Philadelphia," Clarke told the Inquirer.