The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently released a comprehensive action plan, The Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities, to address increasing gun violence throughout the city. The plan comes as a response to Mayor Jim Kenney’s call to action made last year mandating that his Cabinet and senior leadership develop a plan for how to dramatically reduce the killings and shootings in the city.
The plan takes a public health approach to violence that uses science and data to better understand the problem. This approach also allows the city to develop strategies to address the underlying factors that contribute to the violence in its communities. Its overall vision is that “Every Philadelphian will be safe from gun violence in their communities, with full access to opportunities to create their path to a fulfilling life.”
“Taking a public health approach to gun violence allows us to develop strategies to address the underlying factors that contribute to the violence in our communities, not the least of which is the pervasive poverty in Philadelphia,” said Vanessa Garrett Harley, deputy managing director for criminal justice and public safety. “We cannot police our way out of this problem, nor is there any magic solution or one program alone that can solve this issue. But, with the right strategy and tools, one that incorporates and aligns intelligence-based and community-oriented policing with targeted social services and community empowerment, we believe that we can prevent and reduce gun violence in our communities.”
A working group – the Violence Prevention and Reduction Strategy Working Group – included representatives from multiple agencies who offered short and long term recommendations which include:
- promote community health and well-being by prioritizing the reduction of structural violence by addressing the inequities that exist in the communities at the highest risk;
- build on the administration’s successful criminal justice reforms by improving reentry programs and services in Philadelphia and establish the Office of Reentry Partnerships in the Managing Director’s Office;
- creating a gun violence focused Injury Prevention Unit within the Department of Health; and,
- investing in additional analytical capacity and technology to implement the police department’s new “Operation Pinpoint,” which combines intelligence-based and community-oriented policing.
It is expected that the recommendations will help inform the mayor’s and city council’s decisions for the FY 2020 budget and Five Year Plan.