Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other law enforcement officials gathered at City Hall Thursday to offer an update on the crime-fighting measures unveiled in January.
Parts of the crime-fighting plan, already in place, are working, Nutter said. That includes an incentive program that offers a $500 reward for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone carrying an illegal firearm, and up to $20,000 for information leading to arrests and convictions in homicides, he said.
“Philadelphians have stepped up and they’re responding with information. We started showing ‘Philadelphia’s Most Wanted’ on our access channel number 64,” said the mayor. “Since that went live a couple weeks ago, 21 of those 100 fugitives have been arrested.”
Nutter said more pieces of the anti-crime strategy will soon be in place. Next month, the Police Department’s text tip line will debut. In May, through a new city surveillance camera program for businesses in targeted commercial corridors, business owners will be able to get some financial reimbursement for the cost of surveillance cameras.
District Attorney Seth Williams said his office has worked with the courts to make sure those caught with illegal guns are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“My office has begun asking for high bail for all defendants that illegally possess guns. St. Louis implemented such a policy last year and its homicide rate quickly dropped by more than 20 percent,” Williams said. “Since Jan. 26, over 70 percent of the 157 defendants arrested in Philadelphia for merely possessing a firearm, remain in custody.”
Williams said the city needs more police to enforce the law, and more assistant district attorneys to prosecute cases.