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Olivia Bruyn, MPH(c)
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Fewer police stats, more community engagement sought at Philly gun violence briefings [whyy.org]

Apr 14, 2022

When Samantha Matlin was invited to speak at Philadelphia’s biweekly press conference on gun violence prevention in January, she expected questions and challenges about her work with the Scattergood Foundation, which the city enlisted to measure the progress of its anti-violence grant recipients.

Instead, the meeting quickly pivoted to a lengthy review of police reports, with priority given to carjackings — a topic Matlin noted did not directly address gun violence prevention.

The City of Philadelphia began holding its biweekly gun violence briefings in March 2021 to inform the public about each department’s anti-violence initiatives. One year later, a WHYY review of the briefings finds they have disproportionately revolved around data from the Philadelphia Police Department, which experts say emphasizes harmful portrayals of gun violence rather than grassroots prevention initiatives.

During the briefing Matlin attended, she said police representatives showed presentation slides of mugshots predominantly depicting Black men without providing enough context about the circumstances and historical factors contributing to each incident.

“I’m not saying that any of this is done with malice, but I think we have to challenge ourselves to say, ‘What are we saying with this?’” Matlin said.

To read the full article by Amelia Winger, click here.