As I think about my first year with the Philadelphia Police Department, no one could have predicted the whirl-wind year we would experience. My tenure here began with the tragic loss of our brother Corporal James O'Connor. His murder had a profound impact on all of us and we will never forget the sacrifice that he made for his fellow officers and for the citizens of Philadelphia.

2020 also brought COVID-19 and we all had to change the way we police almost entirely overnight. We also had to grapple with a particularly violent year in the city, with increased homicides and shooting rates. The civil unrest and increased security measures that were taken around the elections and in the early art of the new year, added to the difficulties that COVID placed on us as a department. These events were truly unique and presented what seemed like an insurmountable challenge after challenge.

Your tenacity and determination would carry you over these arduous obstacles. Through it all, you withstood the storm and continued to faithfully serve your community with integrity and compassion.

Despite the difficulties we encountered in 2020, not all was lost. For instance, you took more guns off of the street than any other year in recent history. To address crime, we created a new operating model that incorporates daily district priorities, district weekly priorities, bi-weekly Compstat & quarterly district strategies, and also expanded our "Operation Pinpoint" strategy to include additional districts and enhanced focus on underlying neighborhood conditions that drive gun violence.  Additionally, we've increased training throughout our department with Implicit Bias and Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE). We also strengthened our partnership with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) and partnered to create a pilot co-responder model to jointly respond to 911 calls, embedded DBHIDS staff in Police Radio to assist with triaging calls, and extended CIT training to our Police Radio dispatchers.

Although this past year has been a struggle, I want to encourage you to acknowledge your physical and mental grit over this past year, your unwavering commitment to the PPD and the citizens of Philadelphia, and your determination to make it through these difficult times. My first year here has given us many lessons, many of which were hard taught. I want you to know that I fully support you. I have seen the sacrifices that you've made, I understand the hurt and isolation that you are experiencing, and I want you to know that I am tirelessly advocating for additional internal and external services for our members, more officers, more training, more equipment, and more funding. I am standing by you, every step of the way, and we will get through this together.

2020 is over. Let's take the lessons we've learned from it and walk bravely with hope into this new year.