HARRISBURG—Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware/Chester) argued for state funding to help the Commonwealth’s smaller police forces outfit their officers with body cameras and License Plate Recognition cameras at traffic lights to improve the apprehension of criminals in high-traffic communities like those in Delaware and Chester counties.
“While we have a robust criminal justice system in our two counties, we are surrounded by communities where there is a lack of (prosecutions),” Williams said, referring to the cities of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., that bookend Williams’ district.
Williams has been fighting for state funding to purchase body cameras for the volunteer police officers of Bethel Township but has run into bureaucratic snags. “That somebody in Harrisburg doesn’t think there is enough crime going on in the 160th District and in Bethel is reprehensible,” he said.
Williams made his comments during a House Republican Policy Committee hearing on crime and public safety held at the Concord Township Municipal Office Building in Glen Mills.
Williams hosted the Policy Committee so his colleagues could see firsthand the safety challenges facing the160th District. The district is surrounded by transportation corridors, including Route 1, Route 322 and Route 202, that allow criminals easy access in and out of each community.
“There is a direct correlation between an increasing violent community and a lack of prosecuting crime,” Williams said. “We have got that going on in our neighboring city (of Philadelphia) where last year there were well over 500 homicides and a reluctance to prosecute prior convicted felons in possession of guns.”
“Every day you’re seeing people come in from Philadelphia and destroy the quality of life in Delaware County because they are getting away with it in Philadelphia and they are thinking they can get away with the same thing here, and they can’t,” said Chris Eiserman, president, Delaware County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27. “
“I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with you to fight crime, to make our community safe,” Williams said to Bethel Police Chief John Egan, who testified on the challenges of properly funding a smaller police unit.
“I’m just asking you, someway, somehow to find the money for the tools that you work with every day to suppress crime,” Egan said.
The committee also took testimony from Liam N. Power, chair of the Education Task Force for the Office of Advocacy and Reform, under the Office of Gov. Josh Shapiro, and Professor Gregg Volz, director of Youth Courts at Harcum College.
Power and Volz argued for diversionary programs to prevent at-risk youth from incarceration.
“Our country is in the middle of a devastating crime epidemic,” said Josh Kail, chairman of the House Policy Committee. “From restorative justice to supporting law enforcement and assisting those with substance abuse and mental health issues, we must examine all the ways our communities can be safer. Thank you to Rep. Craig Williams for hosting this forum, as well as the testifiers for providing thorough insight on this pressing issue.”
Representative Craig Williams
160th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster