The city of Philadelphia has declared violence a public health crisis and Mayor Jim Kenney has given his cabinet 100 days to come up with a new approach to combating it.
Kenney says he’s losing sleep over the rising violence in the city and wants a new approach that goes beyond policing.
“This plan will look at how workforce and social service initiatives can play a role in stemming violence and providing communities with real opportunity and above all, this plan will be actionable. I don’t want something that sits on the shelf something that is nice to announce and is forgotten,” Kenney said.
City Council President Darrell Clarke is enthusiastic about a new approach, saying it’s time for a radical change in the way violence is addressed.
“We’re asking people to get mad, get as mad as when you watch MSNBC or CNN and see that guy in Washington say something stupid,” Clark said.
Deputy Managing Director Vanessa Garett Hartley, who is in charge of Criminal Justice and Public Safety for Philadelphia, says she is re-evaluating all existing efforts to reduce violence.
“You go down the list and try to figure out what needs to be evaluated, what is working well, and what is not working,” she said. “Part of this 100 day plan is to talk about the allocation of the funds that we do have and see if they are being spent appropriately or whether they need to be looked at in some different way.”
Former Mayor John Street’s brother Milton (who was once a state senator) even had an impromptu audience with the mayor following the announcement, saying the neighborhood people should be hired to act as neighborhood security, because they knew the neighborhood and the people who live there. Many other men stood up at the meeting held in North Philadelphia, offering various ideas, and agreeing the conventional methods were not working and a radical change had to be made in order to help stop the violence.
The new plan is due January 5. Mayor Kenney says in the meantime he will tour the city to ask residents for their ideas.