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Nutter targets "unprecedented" violence with new measures

The plan looks to crack down on those possessing illegal guns and encouraging community members to speak up.

Mayor Michael Nutter and city officials unveiled a multi-pronged approach to address what some have called an "unprecedented" level of senseless violence to start the year.

There are seven main initiatives of the plan: seeking jail time for those convicted of possessing illegal guns, doubling funding for the witness assistance fund, offering rewards of up to $20,000 for a murder arrest and conviction, an anonymous text hotline for residents to contact police, a group that will monitor the movement of the city's most violent criminals through the justice system, about 100 more officers on the street and putting more pressure on nuisance bars.

Nutter said the approached focused on prevention, intervention and collaboration. He emphasized the partnership between local, state and federal agencies.

"The bottom line is there's something that every Philadelphian can do to make this city a safer place. We all have an important part to play," Nutter said, surrounded by city and state lawmakers in the foyer of Strawberry Mansion High School.

Through Wednesday, the city had 31 homicides, up from 25 the same time a year ago and 19 two years ago. The brutal attack on a 64-year-old Vietnam War veteran in Olney a week ago also shocked many residents.

City Council President Darrell Clarke noted that he grew up in the city during gang turf wars, but said "The random level of violence is unprecedented. I have never seen anything like this."

Nutter could not say how much it would cost to implement the measures, but insisted that enhancing the quality of life was "priceless."

Regarding the offer of a reward for every homicide, Nutter said residents would "no longer have to wonder. ... Any homicide. Every life is precious."