When Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson announced with fanfare last week that state police would be patrolling high-crime neighborhoods to help control growing gun violence, officials declined to say how many troopers would be involved. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Mayor John Street let the number slip yesterday: Five.
Street complained that the news media did not point out that the number is under one-tenth of 1 percent of the 6,680-strong Philadelphia police force. The Inquirer says media treatment of the story was driven partly by how the department presented the move. Johnson’s news conference was held the day after a bus was sprayed by gunfire and a passenger and driver were wounded. A top state police commander and a representative from Gov. Ed Rendell’s office attended the announcement, and Johnson maintained the action was a significant step in fighting crime in the city. Bruce Edwards, president of the state troopers union, had indicated that the number was small and that they probably would have little impact on overall crime in Philadelphia. “It’s not like we are coming in there in force,” he said.