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Mayor Jim Kenney announces the details of his administration's new gun violence reduction plan at City Hall. Photo: David Maas/AL DÍA News. 
Mayor Jim Kenney announces the details of his administration's new gun violence reduction plan at City Hall. Photo: David Maas/AL DÍA News. 

Mayor Kenney unveils plan to address surging gun violence in Philadelphia

“These recommendations recognize that violence is ultimately a symptom of the larger crisis of pervasive poverty in Philadelphia,” Kenney said.

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On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney unveiled his administration’s plan to address the increase in gun violence across the city.

Addressing a crowded room at City Hall, Kenney said the “robust and comprehensive” plan will focus on prevention, enforcement and reentry.

Called “The Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities,” the plan is a product of the city’s Violence Prevention and Reduction Strategy Working Group, which was formed following a late September “call to action” by the mayor.

“[The plan’s] recommendations recognize that violence is ultimately a symptom of the larger crisis of pervasive poverty in Philadelphia,” Kenney said.

“We must get away from the mindset that policing is the only answer to this problem,” he added.

As such, the new strategy seeks to tackle the violence using a “public health approach.”

There were 351 homicides in Philadelphia in 2018, up from 315 the year before, and the most the city has experienced in more than a decade, according to the city’s police department. Homicides are up 43 percent since 2013.

In 2017, Philadelphia had the sixth highest murder rate among major U.S. cities, the plan further notes. This violence has affected primarily young men of color.

The city will invest $4.4 million over the next six months to kickstart its implementation of the violence reduction strategy, Kenney said.

The mayor explained that he will present the budget to City Council in early March, at which time he will “propose a more significant commitment to implementing this plan,” he said.

Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Vanessa Garrett Harley, who oversaw the development of the plan, explained that the working group she headed conducted a “listening tour,” visiting communities most affected by gun violence in north, west and southwest Philadelphia, as well as Germantown and parts of south Philadelphia.

Senior Director of the Office of Violence Prevention Theron Pride added that, in order for any plan to be effective, efforts need to be made to provide alternatives to engaging in activity that may lead to violence.

“It’s not enough to have a reduction of gun violence. There needs to be something in place of that,” he said.

“The opposite of gun violence is opportunity,” he added.

For more information about the city’s new violence reduction plan, click here.

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