Declare emergency, Nutter urges Street

Former City Councilman Michael Nutter is nothing if not persistent.

For the fourth time in six months, the Democratic mayoral candidate yesterday called for Mayor Street to respond to the city's climbing homicide rate by declaring a crime emergency.

That would allow police to be sent into specified neighborhoods, Nutter said, to crack down on illegal weapons and to arrest probation and parole violators.

Street rejected Nutter's advice. Mayoral spokesman Joe Grace said the police already are working energetically against gun-related violence but would not set different rules for police activity in high-crime neighborhoods.

"Something must be done," Nutter told reporters on the sidewalk outside City Hall. "If we're serious about this city, wherever the murder and mayhem is going on, we need to step up our enforcement, put officers where they need to be, shut down the illegal activity and take illegal weapons away from people who should not have them."

Nutter said the emergency declaration would allow the police to use "stop and frisk" tactics against individuals they suspect of carrying guns illegally.

Grace said the Police Department and other city agencies are working aggressively to seize illegal guns, to enforce juvenile curfews and to train community leaders in how to resolve conflicts without gunfire.

"But we are not going to violate the constitutional rights of citizens by declaring a state of emergency in some targeted neighborhoods but not in other neighborhoods," Grace said.

Both Nutter and Grace called for the Legislature to pass stricter gun laws.

"I do not now what else the General Assembly needs to see or experience other than the blood flowing in the streets," Nutter said.

More than any of the other mayoral candidates, Nutter has stressed his differences with Street on issues including campaign-contribution limits, an independent city Ethics Board and a smoking ban in city restaurants. *