Fitzgerald unveils bold plan to curb gun violence in Philly

HARRISBURG, May 2 – In front of her district office, state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., joined colleagues from across Philadelphia today to speak about her bill to create the Safe Communities Grant Program.

“We all have a stake in the safety of this community,” Fitzgerald said. “We live here, work here and represent the folks who live here. We have an obligation to create a safe environment for everyone -- including people who are visiting our community, shopping here, dining in restaurants here, whatever it may be.”

Fitzgerald said the Safe Communities Grant Program would help increase safety in areas that currently are unlit or are without surveillance cameras.

 “Crime creeps into our neighborhoods in a variety of ways,” she said. “We know crime thrives in dark places. So, we need to literally bring light to those areas. Also, those same areas may lack safety cameras. We can only combat violence and crime if we know who is perpetrating it. So, let’s provide funding for cameras in those areas as well.”

The program would be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. It would provide grant funding to communities so they can install lighting and security cameras around schools, playgrounds, community centers and high-crime areas.

Fees on licenses to carry firearms and firearm purchases would fund the program.

“Public safety is a basic need that we hear about from constituents all the time, at the federal, state and local levels,” U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA-3) said. “We need everyone working to fight the nationwide surge of violence that began two years ago. This state program would make a real difference by providing funding for more streetlights and security cameras in some of the areas that need them the most. Preventing violence – that’s smart thinking!”

“It’s crucial we do all we can to address violence that’s plagues our city,” state Rep. Stephen Kinsey said. “Representative Fitzgerald continues to be a leader -- thinking of creative ways to address this gun violence epidemic. I support my friend and colleague’s proposed legislation as I believe grants to promote safer communities will provide additional solutions.”

 Fitzgerald said studies have shown that improved outdoor lighting results in a significant reduction in nighttime crimes, including crimes of violence. The installation of security cameras, especially in conjunction with increased lighting, has also been shown to lower crime rates.

“Installing lights and cameras in high-crime areas is a cost-effective and efficient way to save lives and reduce crime,” Fitzgerald said.