In 2018, the murder rate in Philadelphia was the highest among any large city in the nation – more than 20 murders per 100,000 residents. Philadelphia now has more murders each year than New York City even though New York has a much larger population.
Last year, the homicide rate dropped in cities across the nation, but increased in
Philadelphia. Murders decreased in the four Pennsylvania counties surrounding Philadelphia as a total, but increased in Philadelphia. We must stop the violence.
Violence is the norm in too many Philadelphia communities and far too many Philadelphians live in their neighborhood in fear.
Late in 2018, nearly three years after he took office, Mayor Kenney announced that the city did not have a comprehensive violence-prevention plan. Philadelphia endured more murders in 2018 than any year since 2007. Despite new pronouncements about city plans, more than 100 Philadelphians have been murdered in 2019 alone.
After years of making progress reducing homicides, Philadelphia has taken a major step back during the Kenney Administration. If these killings occurred all at once, they would represent a mass murder that would shock the nation, but because they are added up each night, body by body, we somehow ignore the carnage.
Reducing violence is no longer a top priority for our city and our elected leaders. We can do more to reduce the bloodshed.
As Mayor, I will declare a state of emergency to address the violence that will not end until Philadelphians feel safe in their communities.
According to the 2019 “State of the City” report produced by The Pew Charitable Trusts, “In 2018, Philadelphia had 351 homicides—the most since 2007—up 11 percent from the previous year and 43 percent above the historic low recorded in 2013. Similarly, there was a year-to-year increase of 17 percent in the total number of shooting incidents.”
Mayor Jim Kenney promised to reduce violence in Philadelphia, but his administration has failed to make progress. To make Philadelphia a city of peace and security, I offer A Better Way To Reduce Violence For A Better Philadelphia.
Address The Emergency Of Violence With A Coordinated Governmental Approach.
Philadelphia’s violence problem is an ongoing emergency and I will treat it as such. As mayor I will:
  • Declare a state of violence emergency on my first day in office to empower the police commissioner to coordinate an integrated approach to reducing violence in Philadelphia so all city agencies support our city’s anti-violence efforts and cooperate with the Police Department’s work.
  • Target reducing Philadelphia’s murder rate each year I am in office as a goal toward which my administration will advance policy and budgetary plans and measure progress annually.
  • Cooperate with the City Controller’s Office on a performance audit to evaluate how the city spends nearly $50 million annually on anti-violence programs to identify which ones are making a difference and deserve additional funding, and which ones are ineffective and need to be re-conceived before they receive additional funding.
  • Engage the Human Relation Commission much more aggressively in the resolution of neighborhood disputes to stop them from leading to violence.
Support Communities To Help Reduce Violence
It will take a city to reduce murder and violence – so many city agencies can support the efforts to make a safer Philadelphia. As Mayor I will:
  • Deliver universal Pre-K to reach all eligible Philadelphians because ALL of our families need help.
  • Work with my former colleagues in Harrisburg for a school-funding formula that takes poverty into account, provides adequate public charter reimbursement and increases funding for our schools.
  • Expand support for the Office of Adult Education to expand literacy training in Philadelphia and reduce a fundamental barrier to employment for too many residents.
  • Serve our neighborhoods – we can repave our streets, implement weekly, citywide street cleaning, and fully staff our libraries and recreation centers so our communities can thrive.
  • Budget better to provide city council and taxpayers detailed, online programmatic information about the $5 billion general fund budget to make it easy for our residents and taxpayers to know how we are spending their money.
Philadelphia was founded to be a city of harmony and tranquillity but more than three centuries later, too many of today’s Philadelphians live in fear in our neighborhoods or travel with dread through our city. We can do better and, as mayor, I will work every day to reduce violence for a better Philadelphia.
Police Smarter To Improve Neighborhood Safety
We cannot simply arrest our way to a safer city – we must engage our communities in the effort to reduce the violence. As Mayor I will:
  • End “stop-and-frisk,” build a police force that looks like Philadelphia throughout the ranks, and provide much more support to police community-relations officers to best engage every community in the effort to improve public safety.
  • Expand the use of “Focused Deterrence” and use technology — police body cameras, cameras at crime hotspots, and big-data analytics — to be smart and accountable on crime.
  • Increase training for town-watch organizations to expand their capacity and increase their effectiveness.
  • Make strategic use of electronic surveillance and drones in accordance with the law to improve neighborhood safety.
  • Engage the help of the faith-based leaders and people who are in the streets working with the community every day for better crisis-intervention models – as I have done in creating the recent Citywide Peace Pledge – so anti-violence efforts are grassroots movements and not City Hall proclamations.
Address Fundamental Causes Of Violence
A comprehensive approach to reducing violence must address prevention, intervention, enforcement, and re-entry. Poverty, family dysfunction, and lack of opportunity are intertwined with the violence that threatens too many Philadelphians – we must focus on issues like mental health, opportunity, and the availability of guns to address the fundamental causes of violence. As Mayor I will:
  • Implement the Williams Better Way To Reduce Poverty And Grow Jobs For A Better Philadelphia plan to target cutting Philadelphia’s poverty rate in half before I leave office to grow opportunities and support our communities.
  • Follow the lead of Allegheny County and establish an integrated data system to link court, city, and school district data to best inform government’s ability to reduce the violence.
  • Work with my colleagues in Harrisburg to build on the work of the Philadelphia Illegal Gun Task Force I established as a state senator to curb gun violence.
  • Utilize the resources of the city’s Health Department to treat violence prevention as a public-health and mental-health crisis.
  • Reinforce violence-prevention programs with community-wide activities that engage schools, community organizations, and families.
  • Use city government as a model employer for returning citizens and increase educational and job-training opportunities for inmates and returning citizens.
  • Expand incentives for private employers to hire returning citizens.
  • Continue to help returning citizens rebuild their lives with measures like
    Pennsylvania’s landmark Clean Slate legislation for which I was a prime sponsor as a state senator.
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Williams For Mayor
262 S 52nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19139