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16th / 19th POLICE DISTRICT

BACKGROUND

The West Philadelphia Weed & Seed site received its official recognition as a Weed & Seed site in January 1999. The target area in West Philadelphia was selected because of the beginning signs of neighborhood blight and the increase in drug trade and violence. The community is involved and concerned about the changes that have occurred in their community in the last few years.

The residents have been working in conjunction with police, community groups and the Empowerment Zone staff in the area for the past 4 years to reclaim their community from falling completely in the hands of the violence, neighborhood decay, and blight that is associated with the drug trade.

Due to the success that the Weed & Seed Project has had in the North Philadelphia area, the Managing Director's Office, community groups, police and residents decided to apply to become a Weed & Seed Site.

Since receiving official recognition, residents, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, city agencies, community groups and agencies have been working diligently with the Managing Director's Office, Weed & Seed Executive Director and Operation Town Watch staff to develop a Weed & Seed Strategy that would address the issues and concerns of the community.

The partners have been working together on the Steering Committee and on sub-committees to produce the goals and objectives that will aid the residents in reclaiming their community from the drug dealers and the urban blight.

DESIGNATED AREA

The following is the socioeconomic data on the West Philadelphia Target Area:
Population: 18,435
Percent of Unemployment: 7.7%
Median Family Income: $24,745
Individuals below poverty line: 34%
Persons under 25 yrs old: 61%
Education Attained: H.S. Diploma: 35.5, Some College: 18.5, Bachelors Degree: 4.6
Persons over 65 yrs old: 13.5%

STEERING COMMITTEE

The West Philadelphia Weed & Seed Steering Committee is chaired by the Deputy Managing Director and Co-chaired by the Police Commissioner. The committee is comprised of representatives from: city, state and federal agencies, community groups, residents, police department officials, school district officials, and PA National Guard.

The steering committee meets on a monthly basis in the evening to ensure resident participation. The role of the Weed & Seed Steering Committee is not only to serve as a reporting function, but to also address any issues and concerns that affect the work being done by members of the steering and sub-committees. The committee members work as a collective group to solve problems and to monitor the progress of the goals and objectives set forth in the Weed & Seed grant. The steering committee members are also on sub-committees that address specific concerns or projects and provide recommendations to the Steering Committee. The Weed & Seed Executive Director serves as the liaison between the community and city, state and federal agencies. The Director also supervises the D.E.F.Y. (Drug Education For Youth) Program and the West Philadelphia Site Coordinator. Together, they work to implement and develop the Weed & Seed goals and objectives.

WEED & SEED PROJECT OBJECTIVE & ACTIVITIES

LAW ENFORCEMENT OBJECTIVE

Eliminate crime and drug trafficking in the target area through community policing and joint law enforcement efforts between local, state and federal agencies.

ACTIVITIES

1) The District Attorney's Office and Police have been able to close down 161 nuisance properties in the Weed & Seed area that residents have been complaining about for some time.

2) Police continue to conduct reverse stings in the neighborhoods in an effort to keep the drug dealers from getting entrenched in any one area.

3) The City of Philadelphia's Operation Safe Streets program continues to place 2 officers on 11 known drug corners on a rotating basis.

COMMUNITY POLICING OBJECTIVE

Reduce crime, educate the community on community policing, and encourage residents to collaborate with law enforcement agencies and participate in the problem solving efforts.

ACTIVITIES

1) In August 2002, West Philadelphia Weed & Seed held the Second Annual Gospel Rama. The event was a great success. In 2002, we had to have two separate Gospel Rama at different locations in the community due to the increased interest from resident and community groups in taking part in community events. In 2002, there was a 30% increase in resident participation. Gospel groups sang at the event and many youth groups danced to the crowds delight. The event was attended by residents of all ages and many stayed until the end of the event. The Police Department was present at the event as were other groups such as the Managing Director's Office, Operation Town Watch, Men of Mill Creek and other agencies that provided information to the public about their services.

2) There was a 75% increase in the number of Town Watch Programs. Six new Town Watch programs were started during the last grant period. There was also an 80% increase in resident involvement in Town Watch. Sixty-nine new residents were trained as Town Watch members.

3) The mobile mini station officers continue to participate in community events, patrol the community on bikes and interact with residents.

PREVENTION/INTERVENTION & TREATMENT OBJECTIVE

Reduce ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs) & Domestic Abuse, reduce the level of violence in the community through trainings, workshops, Safe Haven activities and collaborations with other community groups.

ACTIVITIES

1) C.A.D.E. (Corporate Alliance for Drug Education) provided drug education and conflict resolution to 2,500 youth in 6 area public schools.

2) Weed & Seed funded 10 programs that are providing services to youth such as: after school programs, sports leagues, music programs, dance classes and education trips.

SAFE HAVEN

1) The Safe Haven members took part in a sexual abuse workshop taught by a representative from the District Attorney's Office.

2) Mt. Carmel Community Development Corp. is providing music classes to youth. The youth are learning music theory and how play the piano via computers.

3) Men of Mill Creek provide after school tutorial program for 35 youth at the neighborhood recreation center. The youth receive homework help and participate in various indoor and outdoor recreational activities. The youth also attend various education field trips.

4) Panther Youth provide after school programs to youth and also provided a football league and cheerleading.

NEIGHBORHOOD RESTORATION OBJECTIVE

Improve the physical conditions of the target area, increase resident involvement in beautification projects and facilitate the improvement of employment opportunities.

ACTIVITIES

1) The City of Philadelphia Managing Director's Office continues to clean up the target area through the Partners for Progress Program. Abandoned homes are being cleaned and sealed while abandoned autos are being removed from the streets. The Streets Department is also working diligent to clean up the streets in the area. The anti-graffiti network also goes through the neighborhood removing graffiti.

2) The neighborhood Restoration Committee is working on a lot beautification project. The committee has identified 7 lots to have community projects developed on the lots. Each of the lots will be owned and maintained by a resident or community group.

3) Annual Philadelphia More Beautiful clean ups during the Spring and Summer help residents to get supplies to keep their community clean.

4) The Philadelphia Housing Authority continues with the annual clean sweep activities in an effort to maintain the housing developments clean.

NOTABLE PROGRAMS

1) D.E.F.Y. (Drug Education For Youth): D.E.F.Y. is a mentoring program comprised of 2 phases. During Phase I, the youth attend a 5-day residential camp at the PA National Guard Base. At the camp, youth receive training on conflict resolution, team building, leadership skills, substance abuse, and hygiene. During this phase II, the youth are matched with mentors and together they attend a variety of workshops and sporting events. The mentors in the program are from the community, police department, and the PA National Guard.

2) TROOPERS: This program is conducted in collaboration with the PA Army National Guard. Troopers is a mentoring program that utilizes discipline and team work to help keep youth off the streets, in school, and drug free. The youth meet every other Monday with National Guard personnel and take part in workshops covering such topics as leadership, team building, and substance abuse. The youth also take part in physical fitness activities. As the youth show leadership skills they receive Stripes similar to those worn by military personnel. The youth wear military uniforms purchased at discounted prices from the PA Federal/State Surplus Office.

3) OPERATION TOWN WATCH: Operation Town Watch staff is in the community recruiting and training residents to police their community. The town watch programs work in conjunction with the Managing Director's Office and Police Department in an effort to have a successful, effective and safe town watch program. The town watch members receive training, vests, hats and radios from the City of Philadelphia. The members also staff the police mobile mini-station. Their efforts allow all the police officers from the mobile to patrol the target area.

4) ANTI-GRAFFITI NETWORK: This program provides crews in the Weed & Seed Target Area that patrol and remove graffiti from the community.

5) PMBC (Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee): This city agency works with residents and block captains to provide them-with the necessary tools for various community service projects. Some of the items provided are trash bags, shovels, and rakes. During the summer months, PMBC hosts block clean ups through the city in conjunction with the streets department.

6) SHOWTIME DRILL TEAM: 140 youth and adults receive leadership training and participate in beautification projects. The youth also participate in drill team competitions.

7) VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM: Wise Choice Transitional Home's Visual Arts Program trains residents on various computer graphics programs. Participants learn to use computers in conjunction with digital cameras and various graphics programs.

8) C.A.D.E.: The Corporate Alliance for Drug Education has Drug Prevention Specialists in area schools teaching drug prevention and substance abuse to youths of various ages. The Specialists also teach Refusal Skills that will help the students to know what to say when they encounter someone asking them to have drugs.

9) MEN OF MILL CREEK: The Men of Mill Creek hosted various sports leagues such as: baseball, basketball and football to youth of all ages in the community.

10) PANTHER YOUTH: Panther Youth host a football league for 100 youth and also had cheerleaders.

11) HIGH FIVE PROGRAM: This program is conducted in the schools and works with youth to help promote appropriate behavior in the classroom and other settings.

12) MT. CARMEL COMM. DEV. CORP.: Youth are attending music classes and are learning music theory and to play the piano through the computer. Youth are also working on a video production class and their first project will be a documentary on Weed & Seed.

EVALUATION

The University of Pennsylvania is in the process of finalizing the contract process with the City of Philadelphia to conduct an evaluation.

Updated December 19, 2014

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