Federal, Philadelphia officials announce 'All Hands on Deck' initiative to combat violence

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Local and federal authorities announced a coordinated effort on Thursday to push back against Philadelphia's epidemic of violent crime.

The new partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department is called "All Hands on Deck." The announcement, made by Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, comes as the city is on pace to hit 600 homicides in 2021 - up 35% from this time last year.

"The violence in Philadelphia affects all of us, not just residents of the city - millions of people travel in and out for work, school, medical care and more. The mission of the federal agencies gathered here today is to keep our entire district safe in partnership with local authorities," Williams said.

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The partnership involves the FBI, ATF, DEA, Homeland Security, immigration and more.

From adding agents as boots on the ground to new technology and information sharing, authorities say the effort is about tracking down violent criminals and putting them behind bars.

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The partnership involves the FBI, ATF, DEA, Homeland Security, immigration and more.

"I warn you, the moment you commit that violent crime, you will feel dread like never before because we are coming after you," said Williams.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw welcomed the added resources, saying that she's long been calling for help from the federal partners.

"Our citizens, our children, and even our officers are being victimized as a result of the continued violence in the city. Enough is enough. The PPD and our federal partners recognize the gravity of the challenges that we face. We must continue to work together-citizens, police, and stakeholders - in order to make headway against the scourge of gun violence. We truly are in support of and need 'All Hands On Deck'," said Outlaw.

Outlaw said she hoped that adding eyes on the street is a warning to criminals.

"That can serve as a deterrent not only for these repeat offenders, but for anyone else in their network or in their circles who consider doing the same things," said Outlaw.

Pastor Carl Day and a group of activists have been on some of the most dangerous corners at night to help mediate situations before they escalate.

"A lot of times these brothers don't know what they're up against, these brothers don't know their options. So, I'm trying to bring resources, and stuff like this, that there is interagency work going on right now to combat what's going on. So, we have to figure something out," Day said.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner was informed about the initiative but was not invited to Thursday's announcement.

Thursday night on a basketball court in Fairmount Park, Sonny Jones of West Philadelphia wasn't shy talking about the epidemic of gun violence, especially involving the city's youth.

"It's a lot of stuff where people don't have parents. It's a lot of empty homes, dad missing, mom missing, drugs," said Jones.

He says it's been painful to see the rampant violence all over the city, including on the basketball courts.

"A lot of us don't have a foundation, so we're looking for that outlet," said Jones, adding that youth mentors are desperately needed.

"Our generation, we look for social media, celebrities and rappers to be our mentors instead of our fellow brothers and sisters in the community," Jones said.

Jones says it's time for things to get back to normal.

"School is on Zoom now. Kids are not being held accountable to still be in class every day. Their parents are not checking up on them. My dad raised me to go to school or get out the house, and I wanted to go to school and be something," said Jones.
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