WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up the release of grants that could help local law enforcement fight crime. Senator Casey also pressed the DOJ to keep Pennsylvania communities in mind while finalizing its fiscal year 2012 work plan.
In a letter to the DOJ, Senator Casey cited a recent wave of violent crime in Sharon and Farrell to highlight the need to quickly release funding for the Byrne/JAG grant program, a critical tool in helping local law enforcement reduce drug and gang-related crime.
“The situation in Farrell and Sharon highlights the immediate need to tackle the problem of crime,” Senator Casey said. “As our communities work to recover from the economic downturn, it is imperative to make sure progress is not thwarted by the destabilizing effects of crime. I will continue to fight to make sure Pennsylvania’s communities can protect their citizens.”
Earlier this month, the Chief of the Southwest Mercer Country Regional Police contacted Senator Casey’s office requesting immediate assistance to put more police on the streets and update equipment. In his letter to the DOJ, Senator Casey highlighted Mercer County’s need for a Byrne / JAG grant and pledged to continue to advocate for robust federal support of targeted, effective programs that help put more police on the streets and prevent crimes before they occur.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to the DOJ is below:
The Honorable Laurie Robinson
Assistant Attorney General of Justice Programs
United States Department of Justice
Dear Assistant Attorney General Robinson,
I write to bring to your attention to a dangerous spike in violent crime in the small Western Pennsylvania cities of Farrell and Sharon. In recent months, these communities have suffered a disturbing number of robberies and assaults, many committed by young people, which have led local law enforcement to request desperately needed federal assistance. As you finalize the Department of Justice’s work plan for the 2012 fiscal year, I urge you to ensure that funding is made available as quickly as possible to assist local law enforcement in small cities like Farrell and Sharon.
Since November 2011, over 20 robberies have been committed in Farrell and Sharon. In December, a police officer was dragged thirty feet by a moving vehicle after attempting to perform a routine traffic stop. Later that month, a local bar owner was shot and killed outside of his bar. In each of these cases, witnesses have described the suspects as teenagers or young adults.
While I understand the fiscal constraints under which the Department is currently operating, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) program could make a significant difference in local crime-fighting efforts in Farrell and Sharon. I have consistently supported the Byrne/JAG program because it is a critical tool in helping local law enforcement reduce drug and gang-related crime activity and has led to over 200,000 arrests, over 50,000 weapons seized, and the breakup of over 9,000 methamphetamine labs. Earlier this month, the Chief of the Southwest Mercer Country Regional Police contacted my office requesting immediate assistance to put more police on the streets and update equipment.
While the situations in Farrell and Sharon highlight the immediate need for Byrne/JAG funding to be released, I am aware that Mercer County is unfortunately one of many areas in desperate need of a Byrne/JAG grant. For that reason, I urge you to release these grants as soon as possible. In the meantime, I will continue to advocate for robust federal support of targeted, effective programs that help put more police on the streets and prevent crimes before they occur. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator