The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA- The mayor on Thursday promised more police and social services to help stem a surge in the city's homicide rate, while pleading with young people to "lay down your weapons."
Philadelphia's homicide rate is 7 percent higher than last year, with 226 people slain.
"You are the future of this city. Lay down your weapons. Do it now. Choose education over violence," Mayor John F. Street said in an eight-minute speech, televised live. "You will never regret it if you do, and you might not survive if you don't."
Street said the city would hire 200 new police officers, along with a new 46-member police unit deployed on nights and weekends in areas of high gun violence. Surveillance cameras would be installed in some neighborhoods, he said.
The mayor also said "violence is not just a police matter" and promised increased social services for young people.
The homicide rate during the past six years remains significantly lower than during the 1990s, and major crime is also down, Street noted. "That should give citizens confidence that the administration can and will manage the current spike in gun violence," he said.
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