North Philadelphia is no stranger to crime. One of the roughest neighborhoods in the city, there were 324 homicides last year and 306 in 2010. But, 2012 is appearing to be even much worse as the young year has already seen 34 deaths. While some residents blame decreased police presence for the increased violence, Chuck Williams, the director of Center for the Prevention of School Aged Violence at Drexel University, thinks desperation is the cause. “I think they're desperate and come from a culture where they learn the way to handle an argument is with a gun,” said Williams who works with educators and students to prevent fighting.
At the end of January the police department made new crime fighting measures, including $20,000 for information solving a homicide and $500 for locating illegal guns. These measures also included funding for the witness assistance program and an increased police presence. Mayor Michael Nutter has been very outspoken about the violence. “If you want to act like an idiot, if you want to be an a-hole, if you want to be a low-life in this town, we will track you down like the dog that you are." Nutter even called the youth out when appearing at a church last summer. With all the expert opinions and police decrees, the numbers don’t seem to be fading. "I've been here for 13 years and I have watched the crime escalate, I have watched the neighborhood deteriorate,” said Stephanie Mayweather, executive director of East Division Crime Victim Services. “I don't know what the answer is."
How can this awful trend be reversed?