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Philadelphia's first Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Everett Gillison, met with the University City Public Safety Group yesterday to address area security initiatives.

The group includes safety professionals from the University City District, Philadelphia Police, universities and neighborhood watch groups.

The group - whose chairwoman is Penn Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush - was created to better coordinate information regarding crime trends, community-wide problems and deployment.

At the meeting yesterday, Gillison emphasized the importance of collaboration between institutions in University City, as opposed to "turf wars" between various groups' public-safety forces.

Gillison addressed questions and concerns raised by the group, ranging from juvenile delinquency to the reintegration of criminals into society.

On the issue of juvenile delinquency, he spoke about the importance of early intervention - stopping kids from falling into a criminal lifestyle between the ages of 10 and 14.

Another important issue for Gillison is getting ex-criminals to become productive members of society.

In regard to getting these people jobs, Gillison said, "We need to get the level of stereotyping down and get the trust level up."

A particularly effective program in progress is the Fugitive Safe Surrender, a way for those with outstanding warrants for nonviolent offenses to surrender peacefully at churches this week.

On Wednesday, 150 people surrendered, and Gillison estimated that the number would reach more than 200.

"If people are able to surrender peacefully, that's less disruption in their lives and the lives of the police who would be apprehending them," Gillison said.

Gillison grew up in West Philadelphia, where he attended public schools through high school.

He then attended Penn, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. He has been involved with social and justice work in Philadelphia for more than 30 years.

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