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The 2024 Integrity Icon Philly Celebration

RSVP today to attend the 2024 Integrity Icon Philly celebration Thursday, May 23 at the Fitler Club Ballroom at 1 South 24th Street. Doors open at 6pm.


For its fourth year, The Philadelphia Citizen and Accountability Lab will be naming five high-integrity city workers as this year’s Integrity Icons. Join us to celebrate with family, friends, and colleagues. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For questions, please contact [email protected].



Meet our 2024 Integrity Icon Philadelphia Winners

Integrity Icon 2024: Deion Sumpter

The Director of the city’s Group Violence Intervention program has tapped into the keys to stopping gun violence in Philadelphia: compassion, industry, diligence, expansion — and never getting comfortable

Integrity Icon 2024: Deion Sumpter

The Director of the city’s Group Violence Intervention program has tapped into the keys to stopping gun violence in Philadelphia: compassion, industry, diligence, expansion — and never getting comfortable

The most distinguishing characteristic of the Group Violence Intervention program office is the energy. Everyone is smiling, eager to shake hands. This is likely because of Deion Sumpter, the Director of the GVI program, whose energy invigorates these caseworkers and staff. He is also smiling and eager to shake hands. On an 85-degree day, he bounds up the stairs to his fourth floor office. That he can maintain such joy in the midst of such emotionally grueling work is due to his passion for the job of changing lives — and saving lives.

Philadelphia launched GVI in August 2020, in the midst of the pandemic and a sudden rise in violent crime. The strategy involves using data to identify high-risk individuals and groups most likely to commit and/or become victims of violent crimes. Those individuals are then contacted by a mobile team composed of two police officers, a representative from the District Attorney’s Office, a mother who has lost a child to gun violence, a credible messenger (someone who may have been formerly incarcerated or was involved in violent crime), and a case manager.

Their message is three-tiered: first, there are consequences to criminal activity, and the criminal justice system is prepared to deliver those consequences if the violence persists. Next is the community message, delivered by grieving mothers sharing their loss, and by those credible messengers who share their lived experience and how that has impacted their lives and loved ones. Finally, the case manager offers resources and services: does the individual need a job? Do they need mental health care? Addiction treatment? Getting them enrolled in assistance programs works as an incentive to end the cycle of violence.

“I believe we can really make some incredible strides in the community. So that’s my vision. I feel like I’m a part of the solution.” — Deion Sumpter

Sumpter was a program specialist with the city auditing violence prevention strategies at the time GVI was being implemented, and the potential he saw motivated him to get involved. He began as a case worker, but quickly advanced to become a coordinator. “It was a very career-altering move for me because I just didn’t really know where I fit,” he says. “And when it came, I was given the autonomy and power to really do something with it.”

GVI is a version of focused deterrence, first created by John Jay College professor David Kennedy in Boston the 1990s. In Philly, versions of the program proved to reduce violence in two different neighborhoods in Philadelphia in Mayor Nutter’s second term. After failing to re-fund those efforts when he came to office, Kenney launched his own version as another pilot, then quickly made GVI permanent after just four months. In January 2022, Sumpter was promoted to director.

For his dedication to anti-violence strategy, his principled leadership of GVI, and the welcome fruits of his labors — reduced shootings, deaths and injuries week by week, and reduced crime in targeted neighborhoods — Sumpter has been named an Integrity Icon, awarded to city workers who go above and beyond their job descriptions to serve city residents. Along with the other four Icons, Sumpter will be honored at a party at Fitler Club on May 23. See the other winners here.


What is an Integrity Icon?

In partnership with DC-based Accountability Lab, The Citizen is the only American city to run an Integrity Icon program. The goal: To name and fame the city workers going above and beyond to make a positive impact in Philadelphia.

This past spring, the public nominated dozens of excellent city workers for the award, using the following criteria: They are a high-integrity public service employee who is respectful and caring; know their work makes a difference to people’s lives; act in a trustworthy and transparent way to solve problems the best they can; treat everyone equally, without regard to politics or influence; and go above and beyond to provide good service to Philadelphians.

A panel of high-integrity judges reviewed the candidates, and selected this year’s honorees. The 2024 winners join 15 other Integrity Icons named by The Citizen since 2021. Read about the others here.


Leading with love

Evangelia Manos, direct supervisor to all Public Safety Departments, oversaw the program’s initial implementation. “I can’t describe the commitment he showed to our strategy and citizens,” she says of Sumpter.

That commitment entailed a heavy caseload of 40 and working weekends, even coming out in the middle of the night to help people in dire need. Sumpter contributed to strategy development, spearheading community and outside agency partnerships with Parks and Recreation, the Office of the Victim Advocate, and the Center for Employment and Opportunities (CEO). He instituted free cognitive behavioral therapy and prolonged exposure therapy for victims and perpetrators, and arranged for GVI participants to be paid a livable wage for 75 days while looking for permanent employment. For the mothers involved in outreach, Sumpter makes sure they have the support they need to continue the work.

Isabel Manahl is a Program Specialist at the Office of Safe Neighborhoods, who first met Sumpter in 2021 when her professor, who had Deion in a previous class, suggested he be her MSW practicum supervisor. “When I first met Deion, his passion and energy for his work was contagious,” Manahl says. “Deion goes above and beyond for our clients. He ensures that each individual has access to every resource they need to succeed. Often, in social services, clients feel they can’t trust a provider. Deion has changed that narrative.”

“I was always taught to lead with love and lead by example,” Sumpter says. “Despite my long hours and demanding workload, I smile. I remain upbeat. I do not pressure my staff to work hard; instead, I actively demonstrate hard work. Same goes for compassion. My level of compassion involves noticing and paying attention to how my staff are doing, empathizing with them and their struggles, and acting in ways to alleviate their suffering. Ultimately, I always wanted to work for someone that truly cared for me. Now that I have people working for me, I wish to grant them that sense of care and love.”

“Never Cheat a Child”

Sumpter grew up in Germantown, where his twin brother is now a police officer. “Neighborhood policing at its finest,” he laughs. “Old school policing.” His ethic of leading with love comes from his mother. While his parents were not together, his father was also active and loving in his upbringing, giving him a stronger foundation than many of his peers. Still, the socioeconomic pressures that plagued his neighborhood had an impact. At just 19 years old, shortly after graduating high school, Sumpter was incarcerated in federal prison for his part in an armed robbery. He was 22 when he was released to a halfway house. One week later, his mother passed away.

“I lost my mind, and it tore me apart,” Sumpter recalls. “From there, seeing the support I got from my family, but also going through that process — being a young kid in the federal system, being in this environment, seeing incarcerated men that looked just like me, overly populated in these cells, and individuals looking at me saying hey, when you get out you gotta live for us. So it was pressure to not return, pressure for me to be successful, to know that for everything they did for me while I was in there, I had to pay it forward.”

“Often, in social services, clients feel they can’t trust a provider. Deion has changed that narrative.” — Isabel Manahl

Sumpter enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia alongside his brother, who had waited for him to come home to attend college. They both transferred to Temple University. His brother entered the police academy when Sumpter began his masters in social work degree. Today, as a father of two boys, integrity for him means doing things the right way without cutting corners, doing good when no one is watching, being true to yourself, and the principle that you never cheat a child.

“If you really want to help a young man or young woman who’s really deeply involved, you can’t cheat the process,” he explains. “There’s no comfort in this work. If you’re seeking to find comfort in his work, you’re in the wrong profession.”

This fall, Sumpter will be serving as a professor at CCP, teaching classes in human services. “For me, again, it’s like paying it forward,” he says. “A lot of individuals who are part of that curriculum are non-traditional students, individuals who are out of prison, who may have battled addiction. Now they wish to pursue a career that enables them to pay it forward. I can be that example for you to push forward and to really make those changes.”

Deion Sumpter’s vision for GVI

GVI’s goals are changing, in part because of its success. The program is active in 17 police districts and responsible for over 1,200 high-risk individuals across Philadelphia. Homicides citywide are down 35 percent over last year, part of a national trend of lower violence across the country. In February 2023, The University of Pennsylvania conducted an evaluation of GVI’s implementation. They found that intervention resulted in a 38.6 percent reduction in shootings per week within a group of targeted high-risk individuals and a 44.4 percent reduction in shootings per week in targeted neighborhoods where GVI operated. Longer studies will determine if GVI has an enduring effect on individual behavior and victimization risk.

Sumpter has highlighted sustainability as a long-term goal for GVI. Violence prevention strategies that work can get stagnant, and organizations can get complacent, so he refuses to get comfortable. After starting work in Kensington last November, there is now a concerted effort in the works to deliberately heighten engagement with at-risk residents there. But even more important to him is his goal to expand GVI to work with juveniles. The majority of individuals the program currently works with are between 18 and 34. This summer, the plan is to expand to juveniles between 14 and 17 through school district and juvenile court referrals.

“When this administration came in, it was their priority to grant me additional resources,” he says. “Mayor Parker and her team have been incredible supporters of our work. I started out with three case managers, and now I have a total of 15, and I’m growing even more, so I am just thrilled, excited.”

The presence of law enforcement in the GVI strategy has been controversial, and many community groups and other agencies doubted it could really work. But Sumpter met that controversy head-on. “There is historical discord between law enforcement and Black and Brown communities. It’s there, it’s clear, it’s evident,” he says. “And in order for us to move forward, we have to understand the historical context of that dynamic. The idea of launching this strategy to be in the community, in Black communities where it’s just like, it’s not going to work. But we made it work!”

Sumpter says GVI has been asked to talk about its work in Miami, Austin, Louisville, and other U.S. cities and states, and as far as Sweden, where the department plans to visit later this year.

“I think it’s important for the residents of the city of Philadelphia to know that people like Deion are dedicating their lives to change the landscape of the city,” Manahl says of Sumpter’s impact. “At times when gun violence is an ever-looming threat, know that Deion, and dozens of people like him, are working hard to change individual lives.”

Sumpter’s faith in GVI’s future success and his vision for how communities can move past violence and thrive are as strong as the foundation he’s built it on: love, respect, honesty, and paying it forward. “I believe we can really make some incredible strides in the community. So that’s my vision. I feel like I’m a part of the solution.”


Deion Sumpter, Director of Group Violence Intervention. Photo by Creative Outfit.

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