Philadelphia’s top cop offered promises of increased patrols around schools for the rest of the school year and during the holiday weekend to stem the rising tide of violence in Philadelphia.
At the same time, city police announced a new program designed to find and support those who are at risk of involvement with gun violence between the ages of 18 and 34, as part of the Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities.
Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Resident Advisory Board will oversee the initiative along with leading non-profits that specialize in anti-violence efforts, Every Murder Is Real, and Father’s Day Rally Committee.
PHA head Kelvin Jeremiah said the aim is to turn people away from violence by offering alternatives such as viable job skills.
“Our objective is to provide them with social services, support, and resources, including connecting them and providing them with mentoring, job training, and other training opportunities,” Jeremiah said.
Resident Advisory Board leader Asia Coney said they hope to touch about a third of the 450 people targeted through the first phase of the program.
“Mentoring these young men and getting them to think about how violence affects them in the community and being able to show them that there are other ways to deal with violence,” Coney said.
The effort, entitled the Violence Prevention Support Services Initiative, is designed to teach more than just job skills, but life skills as well.
“We are actually looking to ensure that they understand their life skills and how to use counseling and how it is not always at the hand of a weapon or the use of a weapon,” she said. “We want to take it a step further and begin to talk to the heads of households where these young men reside and to provide them with skills to help them ensure that their homes are free and safe from weapons of destruction.”
At the same time, the city is upping police patrols in the wake of the Texas school shooting on Tuesday. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said schools will have extra police on patrol.
“I want to assure the public that we are using every resource available to us to ensure that our students finish off the school year safely and that everyone across the city can enjoy our warmer weather as safely as possible.”
Outlaw added the city will also have extra police on the lookout during the extended Memorial Day weekend to keep violence hotspots from flaring up.
“We will be increasing our patrols throughout the city. Officers will be conducting more security checks in our business corridors and patrolling hotspots throughout Philadelphia.”
The commissioner said the extra patrols will put a strain on the department, but they are doing their best to make sure people in the city are safe.