Many mayors and police chiefs say the presidential campaign should include a substantive debate about crime and how best to fight it, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. At a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Philadelphia yesterday, they lamented the decline in federal funding for local crime-fighting programs and urged the national media and Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama to focus on urban violence. “I understand that Iraq and Afghanistan are extremely important. We all understand that,” said Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz, president of the group. “But there are other things that are important  the terrorists that are on our streets that are killing our children. That’s very important, too.”
Federal anticrime aid to states and localities dried up abruptly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and mayors and police chiefs have had little success since persuading presidential candidates or Congress to pay much attention. “These issues must be addressed, and we’re going to continue to press them,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “I think if the candidates are asked, they will then be forced to respond to these kinds of issues.” The meeting was the first of five sessions the Conference of Mayors has planned in an attempt to come up with a unified urban agenda they will present to the next president.