What’s Philadelphia doing on gun violence prevention? New guide provides updates and lays out assets

City of Philadelphia public safety leaders have made a resource guide to help point residents affected by gun violence to services.

A closeup of Philadelphia City Hall.

A closeup of Philadelphia City Hall. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

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Philadelphia’s public safety leaders have created what they hope is a one-stop-shop for residents looking for information and resources related to gun violence.

The guide includes a 25-page directory of housing, education, employment, health, and victim’s services by Philadelphia Police Department district. There are multiple maps showing all of the grantee organizations that receive funding from the city’s Targeted Community Investment Grant and Community Expansion Grant programs.

Erica Atwood, deputy managing director for the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, has presented the resource guide to police captains.

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“This is something captains can use and community resource officers can use to strengthen their relationships with community partners,” she said.

Atwood also wants all residents to be able to refer their neighbors to help.

“Folks really don’t know where to go for support and for resources,” she said. “We wanted to answer that call.”

Erica Atwood, the Senior Director, for the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice & Public Safety, updates the press on city violence prevention. (Sam Searles/WHYY)

The guide was created as an update to Mayor Jim Kenney’s 2019 Roadmap to Safer Communities. It was also a response to a series of more than two dozen listening sessions Atwood’s office has conducted across the city to try to get feedback on that roadmap.

The Criminal Justice Public Safety (CJPS) Office Cluster Resource Guide, released August 16, highlights the city’s progress across five departments:

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  • Office of Criminal Justice
  • Office of Violence Prevention
  • Office of Reentry Partnerships
  • Office of Town Watch Integrated Services
  • Office of the Victim Advocate

Key updates include:

  • Launching a Juvenile Assessment Center, an information hub for young people facing arrest.
  • Rolling out Pushing Progress Philly, a job and therapy program for at-risk adults.
  • Growing the Office of Violence Prevention staff from three to 22.
  • Giving 1,100 formerly incarcerated people $500 stipends to support reentry.
  • Training 20,000 people for Town Watch (patrolling, block watch, etc).

Atwood said the guide is a supplement to the 211 gun violence prevention hotline, which is staffed by resource navigators. She is also looking at turning the guide into an app or an interactive website.

“This is something we’ve had in the works for some time now, that not only talks about what is happening but also what is possible for the future of community public safety,” she said.

In many neighborhoods, there are multiple nonprofits and government agencies serving the same function. Bob Kothari, with management consulting firm Insight Sourcing Group, is part of a pilot effort to consolidate the services of five nonprofits in the Strawberry Mansion/Allegheny area of Philadelphia. He said the city might benefit from doing the same.

“If they can motivate the coordination, I think they’re going to have a bigger punch in the neighborhood because people are going to be working together instead of splintered dollars,” he said.

Atwood says she believes there is already a healthy amount of collaboration happening between nonprofits.

“There’s no dearth of work for community-based organizations,” she said.

The best indicator of success, Atwood said, will be people accessing the services listed in greater numbers.

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