Does Philadelphia Have "Safety First" or "Safety Last" Policy?
Over the July 4th celebration, Michael Hagan of Fishtown was murdered in Society Hill - one of the elite and "safest" sections of Philadelphia. What I found shocking and saddening was the City's response, which has been very quiet. Thank you to David Chang and NBC who reported "Family Remembers Society Hill Victim" which shows the family speaking out and their outcries. What I would like to see is our City's leaders, starting with Mayor Nutter, speaking out as well as outcries from Community Leaders to stop the violence!
As a subculture in Philly, are we now growing numb to violence with a record-breaking homicide rate in 2012 with already 188 murders? It seems that Mayor Nutter's goals of national exposure to getting a seat in the Obama Adminstration's cabinet is more important recently than the lives of citizens. And City Council is more concerned about raising taxes on Citizens than focusing on the number one issue truly affecting the City - crime. I think an entirely new "Safety First" mindset and campaign needs to be implemented and it is not too late for the Mayor, for folks in City Council and every Community Leader, especially in the high crime neighborhoods, for it will have to be a collaborative effort to have a successful outcome.
First of all, why are we comparing crime statistics to 2007? Instead of last year or the year before? It certainly sets the bar low. The City does not need to spin the data...I think Philadelphians are smarter. In real estate and in business we compare to the past year and often times to the past quarter, not five years ago! For example, when I went to find out how many murders we were up to in 2012, the homicide data for 2012 shows we are down 10 percent to 2007. With a one second closer look, it is obvious, we are up dramatically compared to 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011! The same goes for the total homicides where the number was down for 2007 and 2008 but up for 2009 and 2010 compared to 2011. I do not look at that as a success but an outright failure and to claim success is outright "political spinning" and failure of the right mindset to correct the problem.
The answer is not always more police. The answer is a change of mindset, a grass-roots efforts lead by the community that is inspired by the vision of a leader (the Mayor). If we had a "Safety First" policy in Philadelphia, I can guarantee you that crime would go down drastically. Mayor Nutter needs to hold a press conference and announce a no-tolerance mindset to violent crime. For every murder that takes place in Philadelphia, he needs to show up at the crime scene and contact the family personally. He needs to rally City Council and Community Leaders in respective neighborhoods to do everything in their power to bring back a sense of value and pride in the community. It is a change of mindset that will make the difference. More programs like PAL (police athletic league) with community centers opened at all hours of the night to keep the youth off the street. Communities and parents need to rally to help educate their children and not rely on the School District to teach right and wrong. If fathers are not taking part in their children's lives, maybe they can be inspired to do so. And finally, punishment and jail sentences have to be stricter and there simply cannot be parole for repeat offenders or any offender who committed a violent crime. After all, it is these career criminals that continue to commit crime after crime.
With real estate taxes going up 4 years in a row, taxpayers deserve a safer City. If we can increase that sense of pride and value even a little, I am sure that the violent crime rate will decelerate. And a "no tolerance" policy for the offenders has to be in place as a deterrent. The victims of the violent crimes deserve at least that, as well as their families.
We need to come together as a City and instead of placing blame, everyone needs to be unified with a mission from the Mayor and City Council. Mayor Nutter can take a page out of Alcoa's playbook when they hired Paul O'Neill as CEO decades ago. The company's board was shocked when his first priority as CEO was "safety first" instead of profits. Mangers were fired when they kept injury reports from the CEO and over time, Alcoa achieved huge success after a turnaround in safety. And at the same time, their productiviy and profits increased threefold. In Philadelphia, with the current mindset and homicide rate, we take the risk of the migration of taxpayers going to the County or leaving the state altogether. That needs to be reversed immediately to attract more people back into the City of "brotherly love". The City has so much to offer. Let's focus on those things, Mayor Nutter. Let's focus on what you were elected for and not getting a cabinet position in the Obama Adiminstration.
The crime victims and their families need you to listen, Mayor Nutter. Taxpayers need you to listen. Our local economy needs you to listen. "Safety First" instead of "Safety Last" for Michael Hagan and each of the 188 murder victims to date...
What are your thoughts?
[statistics via Philadelphia Police Department]