Program Goals/Target Sites
Operation Safe Streets was a law enforcement and crime prevention initiative implemented in Philadelphia, Pa., in 2002. The program, which targeted specific high-crime problem areas with a geographically targeted police crackdown, was implemented in response to rising violent and drug-related crime in Philadelphia. It was modeled after a similar police crackdown, Operation Sunrise, which was conducted by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1998. The goal of Operation Safe Streets was to improve public order by disrupting local drug markets and to prevent violent crime through the use of intensive localized policing.
The sites identified for intervention were the highest drug-activity locations in the city. Using crime data, arrest data, firearm seizure data and informant data, the Philadelphia Police Department identified 214 locations throughout the city to receive the intervention.
Program Components/Key Personnel
Starting on May 1, 2002, the Philadelphia Police Department stationed pairs of officers at the locations identified. The locations, mainly drug corners, were policed around the clock in order to avoid their use by drug dealers and buyers and dissuade violent crime related to the drug trade (turf wars, gang conflict, etc). The operation required the involvement of more than 600 officers and close to 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week policing of the target locations. The resources, both in terms of funds and required dedicated staff, were substantial.
Geographically targeted crackdowns are an example of problem-solving policing, a strategy which uses a preventive approach to address the underlying issues of crime. The strategies utilized in the Operation Safe Streets program are based on the idea that the underlying issues of the drug trade tend to be localized and dependent on a number of environmentally specific factors. Specifically, the positioning of police officers at specific corners is used to suppress the establishment and operation of local drug markets, as well as to prevent the proliferation of drug-related crimes.