West Philadelphia community celebrates 'National Night Out'

"The more you get to know folks, the less there is of an opportunity or chance that violence can take place."

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ByJaclyn Lee via WPVI logo
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
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"The more you get to know folks, the less there is of an opportunity or chance that violence can take place," said Andrea Swan, director of community and neighborhood affairs for Temple.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There was a party in West Philadelphia Tuesday night aimed at building relationships between police and the community.

"It means a lot," said resident Ricci Rawls who was out celebrating the annual "National Night Out."

"The kids in our community don't really get as much as portrayed on the internet.. And so for them to do stuff like that, it makes us feel like we're a part of something. That they actually see us, like we're here."

Philadelphia Police Captain Robert McKeever said officers want to engage with residents and he says it's working at preventing violence.

The homicide rate is down 31% so far this year in the 19th District he serves, according to McKeever.

"We are part of the community, it's their neighborhood, but we come in here to help them. So we got to make sure that we advertise all these resources," said McKeever.

And at the Penrose Recreation Center near Temple University's campus, community organizers had their own "National Night Out" with the goal of improving the spirit in the community.

"The more you get to know folks, the less there is of an opportunity or chance that violence can take place," said Andrea Swan, director of community and neighborhood affairs for Temple.

As of August 1, 2022, Philadelphia has recorded 319 homicides so far -- down 1% from this time last year.

When Action News asked Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney where he thinks the relationship stands between the community and the city and police, he said, "If you look at this group of people, very diverse age-wise, they seem to love the police here because the police respect them and treat them with respect, and that is returned."

When it comes to fighting the city's rising violence, Kenney says the city needs to get guns out of kids' hands and crack down on straw purchases.