After violent weekend, Philly adding new strategies to crime prevention effort

Pat Loeb
October 21, 2019 - 6:40 pm
Philadelphia City Hall.

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials are adding two new programs to their violence prevention strategy and reviving an old tool for fighting crime after a weekend of violence that included the shooting of two young children. 

The Kenney administration has taken a public health approach to fighting violent crime, employing a series of strategies to tackle the root causes. 

But the plan that it calls "Roadmap for Safer Communities" is getting updates as horrific crimes continue to plague the city's neighborhoods.  

Related: Police identify toddler killed and baby critically wounded in weekend shootings, offer $30K reward in each case

Managing Director Brian Abernathy says one new strategy is to flood communities with city services in the wake of a tragedy, such as Sunday's murder of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera. 

"L&I clean-and-seal teams, CLIP, anti-graffiti network as well as mental health/behavioral health services," he said.

Abernathy says the city is also working a mentoring program and is returning to Focused Deterrence to fight crime.

"It's an attempt to use both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement for the people that we know are the most violent in communities," he added.

Social services and community engagement are balanced with swift, severe and certain punishment for crimes. 

Philadelphia used the focused deterrence technique from 2013 to 2017. A Temple University study credited it with reducing shootings in the city by 35%. During that time the homicide rate also decreased. In 2018, after the strategy had been abandoned, homicides spiked to their highest rate since 2007.

Abernathy says the city is working with the district attorney to restore the program in the next budget.

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CORRECTION: The spelling of Nikolette Rivera's name has been corrected.