John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor David Kennedy said the National Network for Safe Communities, which he co-chairs, has established an anti-violence program that creates a partnership among law enforcement, social-services providers and residents. It has helped to decrease violence in Newark, N.J., Cincinnati and other cities.
The idea, Kennedy said, is to communicate to the groups committing a disproportionate level of crime that the violence is unacceptable and that there will be consequences.
"Your own community needs the violence to stop," Kennedy said. "We will help you if you want help ... Law enforcement will follow the violence and it will focus on the group, so we're putting you on prior notice that the more violent your group is, the more attention you'll get from … law enforcement."
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross called on the community to do its part to help police.
"Sometimes for us it's not even about going to court and testifying — obviously we want that — but just being a source of information for us is so critical," Ross said.
"People have to take control of their neighborhoods, and people have to say ‘that's enough' and get involved in making their community safe," Ramsey said. "What do you think happens when we knock on the door and try to get people to come forward? I understand fear — I understand all of that. But at some point, a neighborhood has to stand up and take control."
Ramsey and Ross also called for stronger punishments for people arrested on weapons charges.
"I think they're far too lenient," Ramsey said. "If it was me, I'd give you 20 years just for using a gun to commit a robbery. But that's just me."