Teens who are reluctant to speak on the phone to adults, let alone police officers, have no problems letting their fingers do the talking on cellphone keyboards. About 1,200 tips came in by text last year, Lanier said.
"The detail that we get on those text tips has been unbelievable," she said. "If there's a beef that wells up in the schools, we're getting names, addresses, descriptions of vehicles, everything - before the violence even starts."
Nutter is vice president of the conference and convened the panel out of his interest in combating violence by and against black males.
In Philadelphia, nearly 75 percent of homicide victims in 2011 were black men; in other cities, the statistics are worse. Panelist Mitchell Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, said 91.5 percent of homicide victims and 97 percent of perpetrators in his city are African American.
"Those are horrible statistics," Nutter said. "If you had statistics like that for train accidents or automobile accidents or from opening bags of bad spinach, there would be warnings out. It would be seen as a national crisis."
- Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Culture comes to City Hall
City Hall is often among the best shows in town. If you can't find a snarky fight between warring members of City Council, you can admire the building's architectural flourishes, or analyze the fashion choices of municipal employees, which range from sweatpants to St. John knits.
But the city will up the artistic ante this year in a new program called "City Hall Presents." The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is asking artists to apply to perform music, dance, theater, spoken word, and other entertainment in City Hall.
The city has secured $150,000 from the Knight and William Penn Foundations for the two-year program and is seeking $50,000 more, as well as corporate sponsorship, said Gary Steuer, who heads the office.
He expects performances, which will take place in the mayor's reception room and the courtyard, as well as in other spaces, to begin in March and continue through the fall. He encourages applicants to suggest shows in unexpected places, though he admits some locations may present unusual challenges, such as what to do about the pigeon droppings in the portal stairways.
Performers receive up to $500 per night, plus publicity. More information: http://creativephl.org/cityhallpresents. - Miriam Hill