Officials with Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office were in West Mt. Airy Wednesday night to talk about the agency’s push to curb youth-committed crime.
During a community meeting organized by the 14th Police District, Vernon Price said education is the key to reducing the number of young adults that are involved in criminal activity.
Price, director of Community Outreach and Government Relations, said the youth need to truly appreciate how quickly a life of crime can lead to jail time or even death and understand how important it is to make good decisions.
The long-time Mt. Airy resident said many forget those simple messages as they pursue fame and fortune. It’s why the DA’s Office tries to impart those lessons sooner rather than later, he said.
“We’re starting now in the fifth and sixth grade to try and get them to focus a little bit on reality versus focusing on Hollywood, rap and all these negative communications that are coming,” said Price during a presentation at the town hall meeting at Germantown Jewish Centre.
Following the presentation, residents asked for help in dealing with two corners in the neighborhood that they have concerns about that involve youths.
Heather Pierce, who heads the Carpenter Woods Town Watch, said she and other nearby neighbors have noticed that a group of young adults regularly loiter at the corner of Greene Street and Ellet Street. Many of them, she said, are 21 years-old.
Pierce said she’s talked to individual parents about the situation, but added that perhaps a stronger message could be sent if a cop car was parked at the corner from time to time.
She also suggested that hearing directly from police, specifically male officers, could also be beneficial. “If you guys do not kind of step up on some level to say something to them it’s not going to have an impact.”
Price said that a meeting may be in order. Leland Kent, executive director of Victim, Witness and Neighborhood Services, said the prosecutor’s office would be happy to address the situation with local police.
Neighbors also asked about how officers are handling recent shootings near the corner of Germantown Avenue and Sharpnack Street.
Captain Joel Dales, who heads the 14th Police District, said he was aware of that situation, but that arrests have been hard to make because no one is willing to talk.
“As soon as we ask them they didn’t see anything,” said Dales.
That said, Dales said officers from the district plan on heading out to that area to try to talk to the youth and hand out flyers about job training and job placement.