WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to send top Department of Justice (DOJ) officials to Erie to assess the crime situation on the ground and to determine what additional steps can be taken to aid a local plan that seeks to blunt the region’s rising crime. In a letter to Attorney General Holder, Senator Casey also called on the DOJ to examine all federal resources that are available to Erie law enforcement.
“Our local and state law enforcement officials are working night and day to fight crime in Erie, but with crime still rising it is time for the Department of Justice to work hand in glove with officials on the ground to support a plan that will finally blunt this rising tide,” Senator Casey said. “Erie’s families deserve safe neighborhoods. A smart, tough plan developed in cooperation with local, state and federal officials can put us on that path.”
FBI statistics for 2009-2010 show that Erie has experienced a 4 percent rise in violent crime while nationwide there has been a 6 percent decrease. In addition, during a nearly two week period in late October and early November of this year, police investigated 11 separate reports of shots being fired with City of Erie limits.
In his letter, Senator Casey called on Attorney General Eric Holder to send top Department of Justice officials to Erie in an effort to assess the situation on the ground, work with local and state officials to come up with additional procedures and explore any federal crime fighting resources that might be available to the city.
“Sustained cooperation between federal and local officials will be critical to stemming this violence and restoring peace to the city of Erie,” Senator Casey wrote.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to Attorney General Holder is below:
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
I write regarding the rising crime rate in Erie, Pennsylvania. Recent reports have led me to believe that Erie’s prolonged, escalating struggle with gun violence necessitates federal assistance, and I applaud the partnership between Assistant United States Attorney General Piccinini, Mayor Sinnott, District Attorney Daneri and others in developing the Unified Youth Violence Reduction Initiative for Erie. I urge you to support this successful partnership by sending the appropriate Department of Justice officials to Erie to assess the situation on the ground and determine what additional steps can be taken to aid this initiative.
FBI statistics for 2009-2010 show that Erie has experienced a four percent rise in violent crime, while nationwide there has been a six percent decrease over the same period. During a nearly two week span this fall, police investigated 11 separate reports of shots fired within City of Erie limits. The impact of these incidents goes beyond the victims and criminals involved; they pose a danger to any Erie resident who risks his or her life by doing something as simple as walking to school. Some residents do not feel safe in their own homes. Earlier this month, shots were fired into a home on the city’s east side which barely missed a woman and her daughter asleep in a first-floor bedroom.
Sustained cooperation between federal and local officials will be critical to stemming this violence and restoring peace to the city of Erie. The Unified Youth Violence Reduction Initiative for Erie will incorporate both a short-term and long-term strategy. In the short-term, officials will focus on removing illegal guns from the streets and out of the hands of juveniles, while community groups are developing a plan to address the underlying causes of violence and reduce crime in the long-term. Importantly, this plan will focus on evidence-based strategies and employing techniques that have worked in other cities.
This local-federal partnership is off to a productive start, but requires adequate resources and sustained focus by your Department to ensure its effectiveness. I urge senior officials to visit Erie to assess the city’s unique needs and identify additional resources that may be used to support local law enforcement. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator