PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The commonwealth's Crime Prevention Caucus held a Community Violence Prevention Summit on Friday at Esperanza College to address the growing cycle of crime in Philadelphia and across the state.
This is the first of four summits to be held in cities throughout Pennsylvania.
Parents, schools, police, elected officials and activists all shared their frustrations about where their communities have been going.
By the end of the forum, it became clear that a collaborative effort is needed to chip away at the growth of violent crime.
State Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), whose nephew was a victim of gun violence, said he would like to see a significant amount of money allocated to address crime and violence. He noted that although much attention has been focused on the city, the issue is growing across the commonwealth.
"Here is my personal goal, that we move $1 billion over a three-year period to address the issue of crime and violence," Street said.
"That would be thirty times more money than we've ever spent before."
State Senator Mario Scavello (R-Monroe, Northampton Counties) specifically noted the importance of returning to community policing.
"I want to see the police on the streets and making friends with the community, being visible," he said. "Whatever happened to the neighborhood cop, where everybody knew his name?"
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw made her case for additional funding, as staffing numbers are the lowest they've seen in decades.
"Point blank, we need more boots on the ground in order to provide the level of safety that the people of Philadelphia need and deserve," she said. She was also joined by Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal at the summit.
Leyondo Dunn, principal of Simon Gratz Mastery Charter High School in Hunting Park, said the academically thriving school is still suffering.
"Nine Gratz students and recent alumni have been killed in the last 18 months, and others have been shot," he said.
"We are heartbroken, we're traumatized, we're angry and quite frankly, I'm tired."
Elana Garcia, an activist who lost her son to gun violence, says something has to be done.
"Before Alex died, I never thought that there could be a murder in my family," Garcia shared. "Now I understand that this tragedy can happen to anyone. There is nowhere to hide."
But more than money, activists stressed the need for more mental health resources, social workers and programs for kids to get to the root of the issue.