News Gleaner: Schwartz gets grant to help combat illegal guns - 8/31/2006
Tough on crime:
In an effort to combat the availability of illegal guns in the city of Philadelphia, and concurrently, stem the growing crime rate, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13th District) recently announced the awarding of a $222,388 Department of Justice grant to the Crime Commission of Delaware Valley.
The grant will establish three main goals, coordinated amongst a number of different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Two assistant district attorneys will be hired using the grant money. These two new government employees will spend two years as full-time workers at the U.S. Attorney's office.
"We do need more aggressive prosecutions," Schwartz said. "And the degree of aggressive prosecutions and intelligence is deeply tied to stopping illegal gun violence in the city."
In addition, the grant money will pay for the salary of a privately contracted firearms examiner who will work at the Philadelphia Police Department for a two year period.
Federal funding will also go towards outreach efforts on illegal firearms trafficking.
According to Schwartz, this funding will emphasize tactical intelligence gathering, more aggressive prosecutions, and enhanced accountability through performance measures. The anti-illegal gun drive will be led by the U.S. Attorney in each federal judicial district.
"Having the federal prosecutors coordinate a multi-agency approach will have a positive effect for reducing gun violence in the city," Schwartz said. "The initiative is to take a hard line against gun criminals and in that way create safer neighborhoods. Every resident has a right to expect safe neighborhoods to live and work in."
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
There have been over 200 homicides in Philadelphia this year, over 85 percent of which are attributable to handguns, according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. In addition, the total number of firearms recovered by the Philadelphia police this year is well over 2,700.
The Department of Justice awarded the grant as a part of Project Safe Neighborhoods-a national program committed to reducing gun crime in the United States by providing local anti-gun crime programs with additional tools, funding, and networking abilities.
"If we can get illegal guns off the street, we can defeat gun violence," Schwartz said. "And that's the purpose. We need to come down hard on the trafficking of illegal guns. The idea is if you can reduce the illegal gun trafficking, the sale of illegal guns, you can stop the violence before it happens. "