Philly Homicide Spike Draws Innovative Response | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Philly Homicide Spike Draws Innovative Response

"Interrupters" are a welcome alternative to near-martial law in a city where drug-related killings are soaring.


A scene from The Interrupters. Photo via

By Jeff Deeney


| Share

A Daily Beast story by this reporter details the major spike in homicides in Philadelphia since the new year: 32 in under a month. This number far outpaces much larger cities and puts Philly on track—if the trend continues—for one of the bloodiest years in recent memory. Two types of “hot spotting” interventions are practiced; the first is the standard issue police response of flooding the most violent areas with authority, enforcing near-martial law until order is restored. The other, more innovative approach is "Philadelphia Ceasefire"—a new social program based on the violence intervention model profiled in the much-praised documentary, The Interrupters. Make no mistake; to speak of urban crime “hot spots” is invariably to talk about the drug war. Philadelphia’s homicide spike is largely driven by the drug trade—as such spikes have been for many years.

The two neighborhoods targeted by both law enforcement and violence interventionists are North Central Philadelphia and the Badlands. The former area is predominantly African American, with a dense patchwork of crack corners; the latter is a mainly Puerto Rican barrio that's the primary distribution hub for heroin and PCP. Philadelphia has seen a score of law enforcement operations target these areas over the years: "Safe Streets," "Sunrise" and "Prevention Point" are just a few. Each follows the same pattern: Lock down dope corners by parking police cruisers around the clock and flood the general area with patrols. This method is effective at restoring some order in the short term. But martial law is expensive, the city is perennially cash strapped, and once the homicide headlines have cooled off the cops always leave. Dope corners then roar back to life and it’s business as usual in North Philly.

The Ceasefire model is very promising; you can read more about its innovative peer-based public health approach here. But the model may work less well in Philadelphia than in Chicago and Los Angeles, where gang-based organized crime superstructures make it easier to predict when retaliatory violence will flare and to dispatch “Interrupters” to quell it. Philly doesn’t do gangs; every corner has its own drug crew and this hyper-local, fractious network of micro-crime organizations makes predicting when and where guns will pop off more difficult. But with adamant resistance to drug policy change in even a Democratic White House, programs like Ceasefire—that seek to mitigate the impact of drug-fueled violence—may be the best we have.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv