BluePrint for a Safer Philadelphia
On April 21, 2004, legislators and law enforcement officials convened a meeting to respond to the recent increase in violent crime in Philadelphia, including the tragic shooting death of Faheem Thomas-Childs. Members of Pennsylvania's General Assembly requested a comprehensive proposal for solutions within 30 days from Philadelphia's law enforcement community, including the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, the United States Attorney's Office, the Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.
All of these entities have met on a number of occasions to develop this proposal. The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office are working with the Philadelphia School District to develop an approach towards early crime prevention programs in the schools. Representatives from the District Attorney's Office, the Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office and ATF went to the National Institute of Justice in Washington, D.C. to discuss the best practices in the nation and seek information on possible funding opportunities.
This proposal represents the work of the Philadelphia law enforcement agencies and the School District. A number of the initiatives build on the existing collaboration among local, state, and federal law enforcement and prosecutors. This law enforcement "Blueprint For a Safer Philadelphia" combines a variety of measures which, taken together, will empower police and probation officers, increase social service support in critical areas, and refocus the judiciary to more effectively deal with violent crime.
These measures include:
- Expanding to additional neighborhoods the city's Youth Violence Reduction Partnership ("YVRP"), which focuses police, probation, and social services on at-risk, violent offenders aged 24 and under;
- Creating a new program in high-crime neighborhoods, the Safe Neighborhood Initiative ("SNI"), which will partner police and probation officers in the intense supervision of violent offenders ages 25 to 30. Law enforcement would be armed with intelligence and analysis from the federal, state, and local agencies which participate in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area ("HIDTA");
- Implementing a program by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to realign the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas criminal courts to focus its caseload on targeted neighborhoods in a "zone court" system;
- Creating a "gun court" staffed by senior Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court judges from throughout the Commonwealth and with an emphasis on intensive pre-trial and post-trial follow-up and supervision as part of probation or parole;
- Enacting a five-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime like the federal law;
- Enacting legislation to strengthen existing state gun laws which prohibit former felons from possessing firearms;
- Enacting legislation to create a five-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for possession of a firearm by career criminals, (defendants with two convictions in any court for serious drug offenses or violent crime), and a ten-year mandatory minimum for defendants with three such convictions;
- Relying on an initiative by the federal ATF and the U.S. Attorney that would require all counties to submit evidence for state-wide tracing of all seized firearms;
- Instituting a city-wide, anti-violence education curriculum for middle school students and community education by businesses and corporations to promote education and safety on firearms;
- Mobilizing faith-based groups and neighborhood organizations to develop anti-crime programs and perform outreach to neighborhood youth.
For a complete copy of the proposal please click Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia.
For more information please visit the Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia website at www.phillyblueprint.com.