DA’s Office Partners with West/Southwest Collaborative to Holistically Address Philadelphia’s Cycle of Gun Violence
Dustin Slaughter, 215–686–8713, Dustin.Slaughter@phila.gov
PHILADELPHIA (October 25, 2021) — District Attorney Larry Krasner today was honored to join community partners in announcing the launch of a multi-organizational effort to holistically and effectively tackle the continued cycle of violence plaguing parts of West and South Philadelphia, a problem that has tragically spiked over the course of the pandemic. The West/Southwest Collaborative Response to Gun Violence (WSW Collaborative) is composed of government, grassroots, and academic entities that will work together to tackle this complex public health and safety crisis by focusing resources in the “hotspots” where poverty and violence concentrate.
The WSW Collaborative is located in the offices of the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia (AVP) located at 5548 Chestnut Street. The mission of the hub, in which AVP; the Beloved Care Project (BCP); Penn Injury Science Center (PISC); and the Philadelphia District Attorney Office Crisis Assistance, Response, and Engagement for Survivors (CARES) Unit will operate, is multi-pronged: By sharing a common space, these entities will be able to ensure clearer cross-organizational communication and more effectively align programming and link services to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the community, while fulfilling its overarching vision of violence prevention by addressing some of the root causes of violent crime, including poverty and trauma. The WSW Collaborative will also evaluate the effectiveness of this collective model and replicate best practices for other areas of the city experiencing disproportionate amounts of violence with the assistance of the Tamarack Institute.
- The Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia has provided victim support services, crisis counseling, and other resources to victims and co-victims of crime since its inception in 1983.
- The Beloved Care Project’s core mission is violence interruption and youth outreach.
- Penn Injury Science Center is a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Injury Control Research Center.
- The DAO’s Crisis Assistance, Response, and Engagement for Survivors program, launched in 2018, provides trauma-informed support to co-victims of homicide in the immediate aftermath of fatal violence.
“Our gun violence crisis, in all of its complexity, requires similarly complex solutions,” said DA Krasner. “That’s why the WSW Collaborative is so crucial. This prevention-oriented approach, an approach that my administration has embraced and lifted up from Day One, is a creative and solutions-based way of tackling this public health and safety problem, because it’s using what we know works: Meeting the needs of survivors, co-victims, and the community is very often the best way to prevent tragedy and avoid the last resort of incarceration.”
“The impact of gun violence has really created a need for collaborative responses,” said CARES Program Director Rev. Myra Maxwell. “This community hub will allow us to better partner with the organizations that really support families and the community in ways that we have not been able to do. It will allow our CARES team to more quickly respond to crime scenes, and connect homicide co-victims to a continuum of services and expand supports for them — and not just in the hours and days after a tragedy.”
“As we come together in this collaboration, everybody involved will assess and evaluate each other’s work and see what we can improve,” said Khalif Mujahid-Ali, Founder and CEO of the Beloved Care Project. “The more organizations that come together, like we’re coming together now, the more work that we can do to prevent the next victim or the next perpetrator of crime.”
“I speak on behalf of many scholars, physicians, and trauma surgeons, that have been working to reduce gun violence and its impact on people for the last three decades at the University of Pennsylvania,” said Sarah Solomon, Deputy Director of the Penn Injury Science Center. “And like them, I am fed up with the unacceptable and escalating violence. But I’m also fed up that there’s not a better bridge between research, what we know and practice to be implemented and adapted to the context of the community. So that’s what we intend to do in this space — to work collaboratively with residents, advocates, and all community stakeholders to evaluate and hone best practices, prevent further trauma, and save lives.”
“AVP has been on the front lines of addressing the full cycle of violence in the Philadelphia area since 1983,” said Natasha Danielá de Lima McGlynn, Executive Director, Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia. “Our dedicated staff of professional therapists, counselors, victim advocates, and interns experienced an alarming phenomenon during the course of this past year’s exponential increase in violence: A 600% increase in the number of people seeking counseling services. Does this mean that their healing journey must then be put on pause until we are able to serve them? We should not be dictating how and when someone heals. This hub will enable AVP and our partners to collaborate and coordinate services to optimize supports for co-victims and survivors of crime. Working together, we can end the cycle of violence.”
“In this moment, when so many of our city’s residents are suffering, there’s an unprecedented amount of demand on our local social service agencies” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “Since coming into office in 2020, I’ve attended more vigils, emergency community meetings, and anti-violence rallies than I ever could have imagined. No person or community should ever have to suffer this level of trauma and have to accept it as just the way that things are in this city. That’s why the WSW Collaborative is so very exciting, because it allows these organizations to leverage their collective expertise to support people who are going through what’s likely the most difficult moment of their lives. I’m grateful to have partners in all of these organizations.”
Future WSW Collaborative partners may also include Code Red PA; Cure Violence Philadelphia of Temple University; and the Pennsylvania John Paul Pryor Shock Trauma Center at Penn Presbyterian.
(PLEASE NOTE: The DAO recently published a progress report on our Crisis Assistance, Response, and Engagement for Survivors program. Visit https://bit.ly/CARESProgress2020 to access the report.)
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually.