As I look into my crystal ball for Philadelphia in 2022, I see little hope for lowering the city’s staggering murder rate in 2022. The job of turning Philly around falls on the shoulders of just one person.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw? She is as ineffectual a public leader as any I’ve seen in my life. Outlaw lacks a plan to take back the city from criminals, or a sense of urgency that it’s a job she must get done.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, on the other hand, has both passion and a plan. Unfortunately, his ideologically-driven plan and diligence in pushing it are part of the problem, not the solution. Given Krasner’s stubborn embrace of crime-denialism, he’s unlikely to turn back the tide of violence and fear.

Mayor Jim Kenney is the person who can make a difference. It will not be easy to spur him into action.

Kenney recently gave his end-of-the-year interview to KYW. Asked to grade his performance on the issue of curtailing homicide and violence in Philadelphia, he gave himself a C+. That is a world-class delusion. He also attacked the billboards on I-95 advertising gun shows as a major problem and took some shots at Donald Trump, as though they are the reason for Philadelphia’s record-breaking homicide count.

I realize Kenney appears to be a poor candidate to save lives. However, in that same interview, he edged toward talking about his legacy. Kenney cited the beverage tax he backed, claiming it resulted in a healthier Philadelphia, and how under his watch, many more poor kids are getting the benefits of pre-kindergarten education.

Legacy is the key word. I’ve interviewed several former Philadelphia mayors and they are very conscious of what snapshot of their years the public carries in their minds. Kenney has to know all the pre-k progress in the world won’t balance out the bloodshed of the last few years.

Kenney can turn things around. He only has to look a few miles south to Chester to get his plan. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that in the city’s latest statistics, homicides are down 63 percent this year compared with 2020. Fatal shootings in Chester are down 43 percent. They also report police are making more arrests in homicide cases and their case clearance rate is 50 percent, the highest since 2004.

What is Chester doing? The program is called Focused Deterrence and the approach involves targeting people most likely to commit crimes of violence. The city is intervening with programs like free trade-school degrees, rental assistance, and counseling for trauma. They also tell the people they’re focusing on that they are at the top of the list for jail. They’re also warned that, if they do choose to commit a crime, they’ll face the harshest punishments available under the law.

It seems simple but it is working.

Kenney’s path forward toward rescuing his legacy is to embrace a similar plan and force his administration to enact it. If Outlaw won’t do it, replace her with a cop who will. Once he’s got the cops focused on the problem, Kenney will have to follow up by pressuring Krasner publicly to fully prosecute those criminals who are frequent offenders. That means a long-term campaign engaging the media and citizens to push Krasner and his enablers in every way possible. This includes public officials that give him cover.

I realize Kenney and others can continue to blame COVID, Oaks, Pa. gun shows, and the excuse du jour.  But Chester has the same issues. Kenney can end up being seen as the man who turned an issue around that no other mayor has faced to this extent.

Our job in the media is to convince Kenney that soda taxes, pre-k, and a better future only are remembered if lives are saved now.