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Philly gets creative to reduce crime

Large cities are always fighting an uphill battle against crime, especially in today's economic crisis when individuals resort to theft and other malicious activity to turn a profit. Philadelphia is one of these cities, as it has one of the highest crime rates among the top 10 cities in the United States, according to a report by SecurityInfoWatch.

Public safety, among other categories, was one of the major topics of discussion at the recent Fall 2012 Secured Cities conference in Philadelphia.

"You cannot have a great city if people don't feel safe," Philly Mayor Michael Nutter said, according to SecurityInfoWatch.

Philadelphia is currently experiencing some challenges with public safety as the city is witnessing an ongoing population growth for the first time in about 60 years, the news source said. While this is making it more difficult to manage criminal activity, the migration is largely due to initiatives that have lowered the overall prevalence of violent crimes.

Mitigating risk through next-generation programs
While Nutter has made a significant dent in crime for the city, he says there is still a ways to go, as the public sector needs to continue fighting the declining homicide rates.

Teaming up with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Nutter implemented several initiatives to reduce crime, including installing video surveillance cameras throughout the city and sharing data with external police departments, SecurityInfoWatch noted. To stress this program even more, the city is offering incentives for businesses that partner in its "SafeCam" program, which enables local law enforcement agencies to connect with private surveillance systems.

Furthermore, Philadelphia is strengthening its surveillance initiatives by teaming up with regional agencies through the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center and the Real Time Crime Center, the news source said. The collaboration concept will become increasingly important in the coming years as the economic crisis continues.

"State and local budgets are pushed to the max and federal dollars are drying up and I don't see that changing," Philadelphia Police Department Deputy Commissioner Nola Joyce said, according to SecurityInfoWatch.

A separate study by the Urban Institute said many municipal surveillance programs are effective at lowering crime rates, especially if they enable effective monitoring.

"Overall, the most effective surveillance systems are those that are monitored by trained staff and have enough cameras to detect crimes in progress and investigate them after the fact," said Nancy La Vigne, the study's lead author.

As crime rates continue to rise, major cities need to be proactive and deploy innovative strategies to keep the public safe.

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