PHILADELPHIA — Today, Mayor Jim Kenney formally announced the creation of the City’s first Office of Violence Prevention and appointed Shondell Revell as the Office’s Executive Director. The Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) is responsible for assessing and coordinating the $60 million dollars the City currently has invested in anti-violence programs across Departments.
“Over the past decade, there have been a host of efforts to stem violence in Philadelphia. While we’ve had some success, I believe the City would benefit from a coordinated, interdepartmental approach,” said Mayor Kenney. “This Office will aid our police officers and other City employees on the front lines by ensuring the City is investing in innovative, effective, long-term anti-violence strategies. I have every confidence that Shondell Revell’s great experience in social work and preventing youth violence will help make this office successful.”
Revell most recently served as the Executive Director of the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership (YVRP), which focuses on serving young people ages 15 to 25 years of age who are statistically shown to be at the greatest risk to kill or be killed. Previously, Revell served as a Correction Officer with New York State Division for Youth, a social worker with Youth Opportunities Philadelphia, and as the Senior Manager for the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network (PAAN).
“I believe OVP will serve the people of Philadelphia and our fellow City Departments in three critical ways,” said Revell. “We will ensure violence prevention and reduction is embedded into the outreach all City departments are already doing with our at-risk populations. We will also proactively engage any youth and high impact or at-risk communities who are not already engaged by the City. And, finally, we will take a long-term approach to violence reduction, one that doesn’t wane with crime waves.”
OVP will also work closely with City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention, which was created by resolution in June by City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and Councilman Curtis Jones.
“The City of Philadelphia must continue to explore creative and proactive approaches to reducing gun violence, as state and federal regulations severely limit local government’s ability to stop the flow of deadly weapons onto our streets,” said Council President Clarke. “Charging an office to comprehensively review existing anti-violence strategies to improve coordination and efficacy is a strong step forward. With homicide rates tracking higher this year already, City government must adopt an aggressive, comprehensive strategy to attack the root causes of violence, including poverty, and disincentivize the use of deadly weapons to solve personal or perceived problems. The Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention looks forward to partnering with the Office of Violence Prevention to make our communities safe for all.”
Councilman Jones added, “I join Mayor Kenney, Council President Clarke and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson to create a coordinated approach to anti-violence efforts in Philadelphia. There are many programs with this stated mission; however, with funding cuts of resources from State and Federal Government, local efforts must ban together to create cost effective options to provide real help for real people.”
Councilman Johnson added, “I introduced the enabling legislation for the Special Committee–with co-sponsorship by Council President Clarke and Councilman Jones and a unanimous vote by Council–because Philadelphia has never systematically coordinated and planned its efforts to prevent gun violence. The Special Committee will focus specifically on gun violence, which is on the rise. Through July 16th, 2017, there have been over 1200 aggravated assaults with a gun, which is 5% more than this time last year. We appreciate that Mayor Kenney is taking the issue seriously and look forward to working closely with him to make the city a national model.”