Philadelphia crossed a horrific milestone this weekend: 300 homicides before September, a number of homicides not seen for 13 years. More than 200 people were shot in each of this year’s summer months — the bloodiest months in years.

This is both a tragedy and a major failure for this city. Three years ago, Mayor Jim Kenney established the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) in order to coordinate a disparate group of well-meaning but unproven initiatives across departments. Its current budget is $9.5 million a year.

Earlier this month, in a cringe-worthy hearing in City Council, OVP leaders had few answers to basic questions: How much did the city invest in violence prevention strategies last year? How much will it invest in fiscal year 2021? How much goes to social services vs. law enforcement? What services are offered? Since the Roadmap of Safer Communities was introduced in January 2019, how many people did OVP engage?

The hearing came nearly two weeks after OVP launched Group Violence Intervention — a rebrand of Focused Deterrence strategy that identifies high-risk individuals, increases their supervision, and offers them services. Even though the strategy was in planning since summer 2019, by the time of the hearing, OVP still didn’t have key details nailed down — including an itemized budget.

Vanessa Garrett Harley, deputy managing director for criminal justice and public safety, which oversees OVP, told Council: “Don’t mistake the fact that we don’t have the numbers as a lack of urgency or caring.”

Not having details and numbers is part of the Office of Violence Prevention’s history.

There has been a steady chorus demanding OVP to evaluate its programs from its inception. Even before OVP’s creation, Inquirer columnist Helen Ubiñas has been demanding the city require programs and organizations that receive gun violence prevention funding prove that their efforts work. This board has joined the call multiple times.

The Community Crisis Intervention Program, one of OVP’s flagship programs, deploys street outreach workers to defuse tensions before they escalate into violence. In September 2018, OVP said it expected the program to lead to a 5% reduction in shootings citywide within a year. Gun violence increased, and the program was never evaluated — its budget was expanded anyway to $1.5 million. OVP didn’t even start collecting basic data on CCIP until January 2019.

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Group Violence Initiative is allegedly going to be different. But despite the program’s original start date in April, OVP has no answers on the status of a contract for an independent evaluation — or on basic figures on outreach to high-risk individuals.

The Kenney administration often touts its gun violence prevention programs as “evidence-based” with “proven results,” but that’s not precise — the programs are based on those that have proven results elsewhere. That does not mean that Philadelphia is implementing them with fidelity.

Seeing reductions in gun violence from GVI could take time. But time is running out for a blind trust in programs while homicides and shootings are in the sixth year of increase. On Thursday, City Council will hold another hearing on gun violence. If OVP can’t show reductions in shootings, they should at least be forced to show their work.