Operation Safe Streets is the most sweeping antidrug initiative in city history: a campaign to eradicate the city's 300 to 500 drug corners; an effort that will not end, Street vowed, until residents and police "are in full control of every block in this city."
Police said they hit 229 of the corners yesterday.
Directing his attention outside the city's borders, Street said he would lobby Harrisburg for a new law to make carrying drugs across county lines a felony punishable by a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Such a law would be enforced against the large numbers of people who live outside the city and visit to buy drugs.
Street said the city would work with neighboring counties to safeguard against drug dealers who might decide to move their business from Philadelphia to the suburbs.
In the surrounding communities, some police departments said they applauded Operation Safe Streets and would prepare for drug dealers who may be moving out of the city.
"We will get some overflow from Philly, maybe a 10 percent increase," said Lt. Terry Hughes of the Bristol Police Department. "But we're ready for it.
"We think it's great what Philadelphia's doing," Hughes added. Police there launched their own crackdown on the street trade 30 days ago.
In Camden, police are considering their own version of Operation Safe Streets.
"No single plan or strategy will eliminate drugs," police spokesman Capt. Joseph Richardson said. "But cumulatively, programs of this nature will assist both us and Philadelphia police.
"This is another tool in the arsenal that we are employing against drug trafficking. It is a viable alternative," said Richardson, who added that it was unlikely Philadelphia dealers would set up shop on the other side of the river. "Everybody has their own turf, their own areas."
The strategy for Operation Safe Streets is not to make mass arrests, the mayor said, but to disrupt street sales of drugs with police stationed at hot spots of narcotics activity.
The last major antidrug drive was Operation Sunrise, the police-led fight against crime and blight in Kensington and North Philadelphia launched in 1998.
Whereas Operation Sunrise resulted in more than 20,000 arrests, Operation Safe Streets' preventive focus was evident in yesterday's total arrests: 11 by late afternoon.
With the redeployment of hundreds of officers - police declined to say how many - the operation requires a major commitment of manpower.
Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said the effort would not hurt 911 response times.
Police highlighted several locations yesterday, including 12th and Huntingdon, Price and Crittenden Streets, and the 7200 block of Greenway Avenue, as high-profile drug locations.
At the morning news conference, police displayed 300 bags of heroin and a handgun confiscated hours earlier in the area.
Leo Wyche, 42, of North 12th Street, was glad to see the police in his neighborhood.
"The older people in the neighborhood, they're scared to come out," said Wyche, who had a bumper sticker on his front door that read: "Take a bite out of crime. Shoot the bastards!"
Charles Coates, 57, of Huntingdon Street, expressed skepticism.
"This is just for the moment," Coates said. "As soon as those cop cars pull away, it's going to be back to usual. I'm glad to see the police here, but it's only temporary. You need something permanent."
At the corner, Officer Lewis Boyer and his partner stood watch outside Roman Grocery.
"I think it'll help," Boyer said. "Can't hurt."
Inside the the store, owner Roman Torres, while contending with an unruly customer who reeked of beer at 8:30 a.m., was reluctant to criticize the crowds that hang out in front of his business.
But he did offer that "yeah, it's good" that the police were there.
Another resident who was skeptical was Emory Fisher, who has lived near Price and Crittenden Streets in East Germantown for 33 years.
Although that location was one of the corners highlighted by police yesterday, the patrol car assigned there left about 9 a.m. Over the course of the next hour three patrol cars passed the intersection, but none stopped.
"The police have got to stay here," Fisher said. "They've got to control the area. They can't stay here a few minutes and then drive away. They've got to be here 24-7."
The police eventually staffed the corner in time for a visit by the mayor later in the day.
At another high-profile corner, 72d Street and Greenway Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, longtime residents cheered the officers, while the known dealers shot nasty looks at the police.
Then the officers went to work, closing in on a 20-year-old man suspected of selling crack cocaine.
"We found your dope," one officer told the suspect.
"What dope, man?" he asked as he was placed inside a squad car.
Milisha Lane, 19, who lives near the drug corner, described the dealing on the street as "all day, every day."
"I try to stay in the house," said Lane, who sat with her 7-month-old daughter in front of her apartment.
Will this stop the drug dealers?
"If [the police] stay out here, yeah," she said.
By early evening, the officers were still out there, at many locations, including the 4800 block of Tackawanna Street in Frankford in the Northeast.
Standing with their bikes next to a building with a large sign that read, "Drug-free area," Officers Robert McGarrity and Sharon Krause said much of the day had been peaceful.
"So far it's all quiet," McGarrity said.
Asked if he knew where the dealers were, McGarrity said: "I don't know. They're probably around somewhere. They're not going to fall off the face of the earth."
Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-2759 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writers Frederick Cusick, Sam Wood and Matthew P. Blanchard contributed to this report.