Struggling to find solutions to Philadelphia’s seemingly intractable wave of violence, regional leaders held an unprecedented summit meeting yesterday, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. The two-hour, closed session ended with no new initiatives, but participants called as an important step in quelling the gun violence that so far has claimed 232 lives this year. Among the suggestions were beefing up truancy programs, establishing conflict-resolution classes in schools, and establishing separate classes for older students who have been repeatedly held back in school.
Participants talked about how to make the most of 200 police officers the department is hiring, and about the need to punish criminals convicted of gun crimes with sentences that exceed 24 months, which would land them in state prisons and not already overcrowded city prisons. With the city’s homicide count on track to exceed the 380 of last year, elected officials have unveiled an array of efforts to attack the problem. Some community leaders expressed doubt about the effectiveness of the meeting. “I don’t know if politicians can solve this,” said Sam Ricks, a 15-year member of a Town Watch group. “I think it’s a police tactics problem.”