A new program, built on broken windows policing principles, is working in Philadelphia, as reported by Philadelphia Daily News.
“IF TYREE RICHARDS had walked down South Street with a loaded Colt Police .38 Special revolver tucked in his waistband a few months earlier than he did, he probably would have gotten probation, despite his Facebook-advertised gang affiliation and teenage arrest record.
“But Richards’ sentencing in April happened after the city started GunStat, an initiative to reduce gun violence by targeting violent and repeat offenders in some neighborhoods where bullets fly too often.
“Do you have a role model, someone you look up to?” Judge Adam Beloff asked Richards in court.
“No,” the teen answered.
“With that, Beloff slapped Richards with a stiff sentence for carrying the gun: 2 1/2 to five years in state prison.
“Richards, 19, was among an ever-expanding list of repeat offenders scooped up by the program, which identifies hotbeds of gun violence then tracks and targets violent offenders there before they commit other major crimes. Started in February, the initiative involves unprecedented collaboration among the Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the mayor’s and managing director’s offices, the city probation department and several federal partners.
“In a city where about 1,421 people were shot in 2011, about four per day, GunStat is a strategy that city officials say will work because it keeps the people who are most likely to shoot – and, in many cases, most likely to be shot – off the streets.
“If we can get these people in [custody] by whatever legal means to stop the violence, that’s what we’re trying to do,” District Attorney Seth Williams said.
“Staying behind bars
“Under GunStat, police work with assistant district attorneys who are assigned to regional offices to identify the most violent offenders in the program’s small target areas – a two-square-mile section of North Philly and a three-square-mile stretch of Kensington – based on arrests, gang affiliations and probation status.
“Police keep close watch on the offenders and stop them for even the most minor offense, such as spitting on the sidewalk, so they can pat them down.
“If an arrest is made, officials said, the assigned ADA is notified by the police and requests a higher bail. In some cases, they argue to revoke bail based on the person’s record.
“About seven months in, authorities are already seeing dramatic results.
“Since GunStat started, according to the D.A.’s office, nearly 70 percent of the 473 suspects awaiting trial or a hearing on gun charges are still in custody. Williams said that before GunStat was implemented, most of those defendants would have been released “unless they had a terrible record of failing to appear.”