Philadelphia Police Chief Sylvester Johnson, acknowledging that police alone cannot quell a run of deadly violence, has called on 10,000 black men to patrol the streets, reports the Associated Press. Johnson, who is black, says black men have a duty to protect more vulnerable residents. He wants each volunteer to pledge to work three hours a day for at least 90 days. “It’s time for African-American men to stand up,” Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News. “We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We’re going to put men on the street. We’re going to train them in conflict resolution.”
The program’s backers include Dennis Muhammad, a former Nation of Islam official who has been hired by police departments in Detroit, Syracuse, and other cities to conduct community-sensitivity training. Philadelphia has nearly 1.5 million residents, 44 percent of them black. It has recorded 294 homicides this year. More than 80 percent of the slayings involve handguns, and most involve young black males. Johnson plans to introduce the “Call to Action: 10,000 Men, It’s a New Day” program on Oct. 21, three months before his planned retirement. “He won’t get anywhere near that number. If he gets 1,000 people, it will be great,” said Heather DeRussy, who leads a local Guardian Angels chapter that has recruited just seven members in the past two years.