PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia City Council member wants to convene a hearing on the recent escape of two men from the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, which left an alleged serial killer on the loose for 10 days.
Councilmember Sharon Vaughn introduced the resolution, with 10 cosponsors, authorizing a hearing on the escape of 19-year-old Ameen Hurst — who is suspected in four murders —and alleged drug dealer Nasir Grant, 24.
“We have too many people at risk when something like this happens, and I want to know who fell asleep at the wheel. I want to know: Why was this able to happen?” she said.
Hurst and Grant were gone for 19 hours before anyone noticed. Grant was recaptured after four days, but Hurst eluded authorities for 10 days.
Councilmember Curtis Jones said, if the resolution passes, he will schedule the hearing before the summer break.
“We have been meeting with the prisons commissioner, and things haven’t gone as fast or improvements made as quickly as we would like,” he said.
Council also is considering a resolution asking Temple University to include its North Philadelphia neighbors in a new public safety plan. Temple recently announced the results of a study on reducing crime around its campus.
Council President Darrell Clarke says he wants a broader focus.
“I want the focus to be on the entire community, because we do have challenges in the existing neighborhood.”
Clarke’s resolution calls for creation of a Temple-Community Safety Partnership Zone and a Response Resource Task Force, and he wants attention on more than violent crime around the campus.
“There are underlying issues. I mean, I think it’s been proven that conditions breed crime. Sometimes the lack of opportunity breeds crime. Temple is the largest employer in North Philadelphia, so we should have a strategy to provide not only employment but education.”
Clarke says the partnership was recommended by a study Temple itself commissioned, to address a safety crisis that cost the university’s president his job and took the life of a campus security officer.
Temple responded in an emailed statement:
“Based on the core recommendations of the report commissioned by Temple University from 21CP Solutions, and the deep expertise of our faculty, the University is leading a wide-ranging, collaborative effort to enhance public safety in our campus community. We applaud and are deeply grateful for the City Council’s expected resolution introduced today, which recognizes the importance of these efforts, and sets exactly the right tone as we and our partners move forward to have a real and lasting impact on reducing violence and improving the quality of life in North Philadelphia.”
Council will likely vote on the resolutions at its next meeting in two weeks.