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Adam Thiel - Philadelphia fire: Families sue Housing Authority for rowhome fire that killed 12 in Fairmount - fox29.com - Philadelphia
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Philadelphia fire: Families sue Housing Authority for rowhome fire that killed 12 in Fairmount
PHILADELPHIA - A devastating fire claimed the lives of 12 people, including nine children, in Philadelphia last year; and now the victims' families are taking legal action.The families of five people killed in the Fairmount rowhome fire are suing building owner the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the city’s public housing agency and the state’s biggest landlord."This terrible tragedy resulting in precious loss of life could and should have been avoided… we are now prepared to move forward, seeking not only compensation, but accountability," Tom Kline, of Kline & Specter, announced in a statement Tuesday.The lawsuit claims the Housing Authority knew the 4-bedroom apartment was overcrowded with 14 people, and that the building had no fire escape or hardwired smoke detectors.RELATED COVERAGE: Philadelphia fire: Lighter, Christmas tree started fire that killed 12 in FairmountNine children were among the 12 people who died in the January 2022 blaze, which officials later said was caused by a Christmas tree ignited by a lighter."We believe with certainty - so 99 to 100% confidence - that the first item ignited in this blaze was a Christmas tree," Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said after an investigation last year. "We believe with near certainty, based on the evidence, the ignition source for this tree was a lighter that was located nearby."Fourteen people were authorized to live in the four-bedroom upper apartment that "suffered the tragedy," Kelvin Jeremiah, the housing authority's president and CEO, said last year.
Kelly Rule - John Walker - Philadelphia police hope revamped recruitment process will help address staffing issues - fox29.com - Philadelphia
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Philadelphia police hope revamped recruitment process will help address staffing issues
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Police Department hopes to hire hundreds of new officers over the next year with the help of a revamped recruitment process. Commanding Officer of the Recruitment and Background Investigation Unit Captain John Walker called the need for more officers "dire" and touted the upward mobility the department offers. "We are in dire need right now we want to hire over 1,000 people over the next few years, and we want to hire diverse groups of people from all over," Walker told FOX 29's Kelly Rule. There are immediate areas where the city can improve, especially in neighborhoods that deal with less crime and some districts that offer a higher starting salary. "If you want to have daily interaction and a lot of opportunity, the chance of promotion in a big city where you have 1 year in rank and you can promote up is unheard of in smaller departments," Walker said.The department's desperate need to find more officers isn't unique to only Philadelphia, cities across the country are also finding their police forces severely depleted. The biggest challenge seems to be trying to convince people to become police officers amid rampant gun violence and issues with community relations. In Philadelphia, the department is offering full benefits and a salary of almost $64k after six months in the academy.
Jeff Cole - Rebecca Rhynhart - Philadelphia Controller's review of police spending details staffing issues, varying 911 response times - fox29.com - Philadelphia
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Philadelphia Controller's review of police spending details staffing issues, varying 911 response times
PHILADELPHIA - In a city struggling with violent crime, the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office has found that there are fewer police officers now than in recent years. "In total, we have over 640 fewer officers available for duty than we had 5 years ago," City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart explained in an interview with FOX 29’s Jeff Cole. Of the 6,000 Philadelphia police officers, Rhynhart reports on 2,500 are assigned to patrol the city’s streets. Broken down of 21 police districts, the controller’s office found that number left just 11 to 22 cops on the beat at any one time - per district - in a department budgeted at more than 750 million dollars at the time of the review.PPD Uniform Officer Staffing Levels (Philadelphia Office of the Controller) "That amount of money, when it comes down to it, there’s only 11 to 22 officers at any given time per district," Rhyhart said. "That feels outrageous in a city that is overrun with gun crime. How has that happened, how has that gotten to be like that?" Cole asked. "What needs to happen is that every position needs to be looked at," Rhynhart replied. Rhynhart’s audit on police spending and practices came at the urging of City Council after Philadelphia was rocked by protests in the aftermath of the police-killing of George Floyd.So, why are there so few cops?Average Number of Officers on No Duty, Quarterly since FY 2009.
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