Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates agree that crime is the number one campaign issue, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Though the five men vying for the Democratic nomination May 15 share some strategies against epidemic violence, they differ in significant details. They want more police – 500 to 1,000 new hires. They want to target “hot spots” with intensive patrols; invest in “21st-century” video surveillance and acoustic gunshot locators; spur faith-based, anticrime initiatives; and amend state law so Philadelphia can enact stricter ordinances against illegal guns.
“Everybody now agrees that law enforcement cannot arrest its way out of this problem; there needs to be a role for the social services, faith-based groups [and] other elements of the criminal justice system,” including prosecutors, judges, probation and parole officers, said David Kennedy of John Jay College’s Center on Crime Prevention and Control. Criminologist Sam Walker of the University of Nebraska says some candidate thinking is sound, some is unproved. “Hiring more officers, by itself, will accomplish nothing,” Walker said, adding that, “There is no persuasive research that restrictive gun laws actually reduce crime.” and “the jury is still out on the impact of video-surveillance technology on violent crime.” Says Maria Kefalas of St. Joseph’s Univesity’s Institute for Violence Research and Prevention: “More cops is great, you can patrol more streets, clear more corners. But it’s like putting a topical treatment on a rash while not dealing with the underlying systemic disease.”