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Policing Philadelphia: Boots on the street

Getting to know the neighbourhood

IT IS a humid afternoon, and two young police officers patrolling one of the roughest parts of Philadelphia have stumbled on something new. In a corner lot, a small brown horse is munching on thorn bushes. “I think it’s legal to keep a horse in the city,” says Mike Farrell, looking up and the down the block for clues. “You get used to seeing everything in this neighbourhood,” adds Brian Nolan, his partner, “but this is pretty unusual.” After learning from a passer-by that the horse’s owner lives nearby, and that its corral belongs to his grandmother, the officers extract a promise to ensure that the animal gets fresh water, and move on.Philadelphia is a violent city, with a murder rate more than four times New York’s. To curb the mayhem, the police are resorting to an old-fashioned technique. Instead of insisting that officers cruise around in cars, the city is sending rookies out on foot. If they constantly patrol the same troubled neighbourhood, goes the theory, they will understand it better and keep it safer. The results are encouraging.Mr Farrell and Mr Nolan patrol the 22nd district, one of the…

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