Philadelphia will increase security around schools by relying more heavily on the city’s crime-mapping computer system and possibly by deploying undercover and narcotics police officers, the Philadelphia Daily News says.
Mayor John Street said everything will be done to keep children safe “in school, on the way to school and in any environment that causes them to be a potential target of reckless activity in our neighborhoods.” He was joined at a news conference by Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson and school district chief Paul Vallas.
Street said the shooting of a youth outside an elementary school at the hands of two fighting drug gangs outraged the city, and “we will do everything, sparing no expense to make sure they are brought to justice.” Compstat, which uses computer-generated maps to help police link crime areas and track trends, will have a “renewed focus” in and around schools, he said.
Johnson said that while school locations are already on the department’s computer maps, “I just think the communication is going to be a lot better than it was before.” Street will ask Johnson to reconsider the deployment of police in and around schools “to make sure any corner in and around a school is covered in a way to produce a kind of safety that we’d like to have.”
Vallas appealed for volunteer community patrols around schools. “We still have close to 60 percent of our schools without effective parent or community patrols. So recruiting volunteers to step up to the plate… is the task before us.” The school district is working with state legislators for laws that would stiffen penalties for those who commit crimes in “safe school zones” – within 1,000 feet of school property.