Skip to the content

Philly to Be Part of Biden Community Violence Intervention Plan

by Emily Scott, Keystone State News Connection

Philly to Be Part of Biden Community Violence Intervention Plan

The Biden administration has a new federal strategy to address gun violence surging in cities across the country, including Philadelphia.

American Rescue Plan funds will be used to invest in a “Community Violence Intervention Collaborative,” made up of Philadelphia and 14 other cities. Trusted community members can work directly with people who might be involved in gun violence to intervene in conflicts and connect them with social services.

Kallel Edwards, Philadelphia organizer for the group CeaseFirePA, believes there’s an extraordinary need to fund organizations doing on-the-ground work to get at the socioeconomic root causes of gun violence.

As Edwards put it, “This is an opportunity for cities to use the funds also to prevent some of the gun violence over the summer, by creating jobs and summer programs for the youth who have really taken a big hit, you know, in these cities, in these targeted cities.”

In Philadelphia, 261 people have been killed in shootings so far this year, a 37% increase compared to this time last year.

Community Violence Intervention or ‘CVI’ programs nationally have reduced incidents by up to 60%, according to a 2019 report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

City leaders in the collaborative will meet over the next 18 months to learn CVI best practices and how to add public-health approaches to addressing gun violence to their policies.

In his announcement Wednesday, President Joe Biden said these community efforts save lives, and that local governments also have federal dollars to support these programs.

“For folks at home, the American Rescue Plan, which is a once-in-a-generation investment to reduce violence in America, is available,” Biden stressed. “It means more police officers, more nurses, more counselors, more social workers, more community violence interrupters, to help resolve issues before they escalate into crimes.”

Biden’s new gun-violence prevention plan also includes a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ cracking down on gun dealers who break the law.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he’s hopeful this federal partnership can help the city address its gun-violence epidemic.

“We are going to hopefully work with the federal government to maybe get some of these large amounts of guns off the street, and continue working hard in our communities to build trust, to build relationships, and to put in place programs that give people the opportunity to make the right decisions in their life as opposed to making the wrong ones,” Kenney said.

The City Council and Mayor Kenney have committed $155 million to gun violence prevention in next year’s budget.