'All hands on deck': North Philadelphia residents sound off on scourge of violence

Residents fed up with gun violence in their neighborhoods sat down with city officials Tuesday night in North Philadelphia to share ideas on what could save lives as the gun violence crisis worsens. 

"If we don’t continue to stay on track and recognize what are the issues that are kind of the root causes to the violence that we are seeing, we are never going to come out of this," Senior Director of Criminal Justice and Public Safety Erica Atwood said. 

Tuesday's meeting was the third stop on a citywide listening tour that supports the City’s Roadmap to Safer Communities initiative that supports a comprehensive gun violence reduction plan. 

North Philadelphia in particular has dealt with a number of recent shootings, including a 15-year-old boy who police say opened fire on a car full of girls and was later linked to two other shootings involving teens as young as 14. 

Temple University's police union recently admitted that it's operating at 60% of its normal workforce and officers have worked at least 42 overtime shifts since last summer. The department believes the staffing crisis is impacting the safety of Temple's campus

"Unfortunately, we cannot be fully effective at our jobs with the current staffing and resource crisis at Temple," Temple University Police Association wrote on its Facebook page. "Ineffectiveness is NOT a result of lack of effort. We care deeply about our community, and it's overall safety."

Poverty and lack of access to education are just some of those root causes identified by community members. Some believe that no amount of policing and incarceration will fix the gun violence crisis. 

"We can’t get caught up in the hysteria and start leading down the road of mass incarceration and then labeling people in the wrong direction and try to find incentive measures and try to intervene before it gets to that point," a community member said.

The city will hold two more meetings on Apr. 12 and 21 in Nicetown-Tioga and Lawncrest respectively. 

"It's all hands-on deck and I think them coming into the communities and asking is a good start, but to finish it you have to implement a lot of the things that’s coming out of these meetings," Donnell Drinks, a community member, said.




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