Philadelphia anti-violence group hits the streets to combat community in 'crisis'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A city-funded program known as the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti Violence Network, or PAAN, is trying to make a difference in stopping the violence.

The Crisis Intervention Team's evening begins where most of ours come to an end.

Each step the group makes is symbolic of the step forward they want to move in their community they say is in crisis. Part of their mission is ending the violence by cutting it off at its source.

"If we can get through to one or two, that's our way of navigating," said member Angelic Bradley.

Action News was with PAAN late Thursday evening in Southwest Philadelphia in an area that in recent days has seen no shortage of gun violence.

Each friendly interaction is an opportunity to reach out and foster relationships in areas where crime is rampant and where police may not get as warm a welcome.

Philadelphia police say PAAN's work, especially now during this recent uptick in gun violence, has been invaluable.

"We can't necessarily arrest ourselves out of this issue, so the number one thing is to deescalate and stop something before it happens and that's where PAAN is really really good," said 18th District Captain Matthew Gillespie.

Though the teams generally go out late between Thursday and Saturday, they say they really are a 24-hour operation.

"It has to be done every day," said Shondell Revell, Executive Director of the Office of Violence Prevention which oversees the program.

Early Friday evening, Revell was with members of the Crisis team in West Philly.

"I live in the community, so this to me is personal, you know it's not a job," he said.

"This is their ground. This is their territory so you have to respect the territory they're inviting you to be a part of," explained Emart Harley after talking to some teens playing basketball.

It's an approach some in the community believe is working.

"If you're trying to come to the community then be honest about what you're trying to get accomplished as far as trying to work with the people who are the locals," said West Philadelphia native Jabril Trawick.

PAAN is also celebrating its 30th anniversary.
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