Will Philadelphia's new 'Group Violence Intervention' plan decrease surging violence?

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thirty-five victims were wounded in more than two dozen shooting incidents over the weekend as the violence continues to skyrocket in Philadelphia.

Vanessa Garrett Harley, deputy manager for criminal justice and public safety with the City of Philadelphia, says that as someone who was born and raised in the city, the spike in violence over the past several weeks has affected her on a professional and personal level.

She says, "Some of their family members are close friends of mine. So, when you have to look at those family members and talk to these people and see the grief and the anguish on a mother's face, or a grandmother's face, it's difficult. And for me, it's very difficult."

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Police were investigating after a shooting left three teens and two others injured in North Philadelphia.

The weekend violence included a shooting during a block party in North Philadelphia.

Five people were injured when at least one person opened fire during the annual event which, ironically, is held in remembrance of an 18-year-old basketball star who was shot and killed seven years ago.

Harley says part of the city's plan to address the issue is a recently launched initiative called "Group Violence Intervention" or GVI.

"It is an evidence-based model that has worked in other jurisdictions, many other big cities have used it and it has helped them decrease their shootings and we are optimistic about it," said Harley.
The GVI model includes a much stronger role for social services as a means of guiding at-risk youth away from the streets.

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She admits the plan's success hinges on the willingness of people all across the city to work with local authorities.

"It's going to take the community at a much greater level working with the police and violence prevention, and just all of us addressing these issues at the same time, to say that we've all reached that same boiling point. Enough is enough," said Harley.

Seven people were killed in the weekend violence.

As of Monday night, the homicide rate in Philadelphia is up approximately 30% over this time last year.
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