Philly D.A. receives Innovative Community Engagement Award by APA

By Jon Campisi | Sep 26, 2013

Philadelphia’s top law enforcer was expected to be the recipient Wednesday

of an award showcasing the public servant’s work in community prosecution.

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, in conjunction with Target, was planning to hand out this year’s Innovative Community Engagement Award to Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams.

The award recognizes outstanding leaders in community prosecution.

“Like so many of my colleagues around the country, I recognize that community-based prosecution is the linchpin for improving public safety and fostering good community relations,” Williams said in a statement released by his office.

The award was scheduled to be given out in conjunction with a conference in the City of Brotherly Love this week that brought together national experts on crime reduction tactics who are looking at ways to make neighborhoods safer across the country.

Williams, in his statement, said that the two-day conference was expected to be “enormously productive,” and he looked forward to exchanging ideas with others in his line of work geared toward improving the health of the communities across the nation.

The event, titled the National Community Prosecution Training Summit, has been taking place for the past eight years, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

It is sponsored by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in partnership with the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Center for Court Innovation.

The goal of the conference, which is held in a different city each year, is to give prosecutors the skills by which they can strengthen the links between the criminal justice system and community members, according to the Philadelphia D.A.’s Office.

“Community Prosecution is a philosophy that encourages collaboration between prosecutors, criminal justice partners and the community to create safer neighborhoods,” APA President David LaBahn said in a statement. “By recognizing the important role that members of a community play in public safety, prosecutors have engaged in community based problem solving strategies that have reduced crime.”

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office employs more than 600 attorneys, investigators and support staff, making it one of the largest local prosecutor’s offices in the country.

Williams, who was elected in November 2009, is the first black district attorney not only in Philadelphia, but in Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia native, who attended law school at Georgetown University, served as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia for a decade before he was elevated to the top spot at the office.

Williams has also served as Philadelphia’s Inspector General.

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