Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced a plan to fight back against a spike in violent crime by embedding prosecutors in police stations and not prosecuting many other crimes.
Krasner’s initiative, the Gun Crimes Strategies & Prevention Collaborative, was quietly launched in June as a response to skyrocketing violent crime in the city, WHYY reported.
The notoriously anti-police district attorney said that his new program would allow police to focus on bigger crimes – not turnstile jumping or marijuana possession – and improve community relations, KYW reported.
“The record of this office now and the record moving forward will make it very clear,” he explained. “You can decarcerate for non-serious offenses, which improves society, it improves prevention, while you simultaneously save the necessary hammer of law enforcement for those who are killing and hurting other people.”
“We stand with victims of gun violence, we stand with law enforcement with their efforts to rein it in and we stand with community building and prevention, which are ultimately the surest of long-term solution,” he added at the press conference to announce the plan on June 26.
Krasner explained to reporters that currently policing practices had caused a “traumatization of neighborhoods” and drove a wedge between law enforcement and the community that serves them.
“The most important thing that we can do is build community at the same time we are also focusing on law enforcement. If you shoot people, you need to be in jail. If you kill people, you need to be in jail,” the district attorney said.
Krasner compared his program to a similar initiative in Chicago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Chicago has famously seen historic increases in shootings and murders thus far this summer, and isn’t considered a model for reducing crime.
Crime in Philadelphia is similarly out of control with 193 fatal shootings already this year, a 21 percent increase over 2019 at this time, and the highest the city has experienced since 2007.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw also held a separate press conference to announce that two assistant district attorneys who would be occupying each police station to help with gun crime, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Commissioner Outlaw also announced several changes to the Command Staff and her new goal of increasing the department’s clearance rate of homicides and non-fatal shootings to 65 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
She promised to rededicate the police department to building relationships with minority communities, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“By committing ourselves to the performance goals… we will achieve long-term sustainable neighborhood change together,” Commissioner Outlaw told reporters.
The commissioner released a 40-page program entitled the “Crime Prevention and Violence Reduction Action Plan” that outlined staffing to track and monitor the outcomes of shooting cases and help expand the areas called “pinpoint zones,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“Regardless of the ebbs and flows we undoubtedly will face, there is an absolute urgency to comprehensively address violent crime, specifically gun violence that disparately impacts our communities,” Commissioner Outlaw wrote in the introduction to the plan, WHYY reported.
However, the fine print in the lengthy document showed that there is no budget allocated for the commissioner’s plan at this point.
Commissioner Outlaw said that one of her goals was to rebuild a working relationship with the District Attorney’s Office, something that fell into complete disrepair when Krasner took the helm, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Stanley Crawford, founder of the Black Male Community Council of Philadelphia, said that the community needed to come forward and work with law enforcement to reduce crime in their neighborhoods, WHYY reported.
“When we see on the news of a murder occurring, it’s not just that one person that they’re showing in the news, it’s a rippling effect that goes throughout the whole family,” Crawford said.
His son was fatally shot outside a family member’s house in 2018, WHYY reported.
“We specifically in the Black community have to come together and work together because it’s our family members that’s constantly going into the grave,” Crawford added.