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Crime Up Double Digits in All Suburban Counties Bordering Philly from 2021 to ‘22

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

Crime rose by double-digit percentages in Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks counties from 2021 to 2022 with the largest increases coming in property crimes like burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft, according to data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR) website.

Chester County, which does not share a border with Philadelphia, was the only “collar county” bucking that trend. There were decreases in nearly every category but one.

The statistics represent one of the most definable contours placed on the otherwise uneasy and oftentimes fuzzy notion driven by anecdotes that an urban crime spike in the summer of 2020 is spilling over beyond the Philadelphia city limits, impacting smaller communities not normally affected by assaults or thefts.

Larceny (generally defined as theft of personal property) and auto thefts in particular are both showing large increases in the collar counties that match large increases in Philadelphia.

Taking the four counties combined, auto thefts climbed from 2,302 in 2021 to 2,834 in 2022, an increase of 23 percent.

Those figures compare to a dramatic spike in auto thefts in Philadelphia. In 2022, the city reached a two-decade-long high of 14,533 car thefts, up from 11,341 in 2021. This year, however, the city is set to blow past both of those figures, as the current trend shows Philadelphia will likely surpass 20,000 car thefts in 2023.

As stark as the increase in auto thefts seems, the percentage increase in larceny in the four counties eclipsed even that.

In 2021, the four counties totaled 23,690 incidents of larceny, which rose to 30,496 by 2022 — an increase of 28 percent. Larceny was the one category in Chester County showing a year-over-year increase.

Burglaries were up 32, 24, and seventeen percent in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery, respectively from 2021 to ‘22.

Three categories did show decreases. Reported incidents of rape were down four percent. Aggravated assaults were down ten percent, and arson was down sixteen percent.

When adding all the categories together, the number of total incidents reported across the four counties was up twenty percent.

Comparing the numbers against the rest of the state appears to show that most of these increases are concentrated in Southeast Pennsylvania.

For example, taking statewide data that subtracts Philadelphia and the four collar counties shows larcenies were up fourteen percent in the remainder of the commonwealth. In the four collar counties, larcenies were up twice that rate, at 28 percent.

The data also appear to show that the skyrocketing auto theft trend is also primarily a southeastern phenomenon.

While motor vehicle thefts are up 40 and 23 percent in Philadelphia and the collar counties, respectively, they are only up five percent in the rest of the commonwealth.

Burglaries were mostly flat in the rest of the state from ‘21 to ‘22. However, burglaries were up nineteen and ten percent in the collar counties and Philadelphia, respectively.

Broad + Liberty’s requests for comment to the district attorneys in the four suburb counties were not returned. (Montgomery and Chester counties acknowledged receiving the questions and appeared ready to engage at first, then stopped communicating.)

Of the four incumbent district attorneys in the collar counties, only Jack Stollsteimer (D) in Delaware County faces a re-election battle, running against Republican Beth Stefanide Miscichowski. Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan (D) is not running for re-election this year, opting to run for a judgeship instead. Kevin Steele (D) in Montgomery County is running unopposed. And the district attorney office is not on the ballot this year in Bucks, but Weintraub is also running for a judgeship.

Many of the incumbent district attorneys have claimed success in battling gun crimes, something not directly addressed by the statistics in the Pennsylvania UCR.

On his re-election website, Montgomery’s Steele said his office had “strategically focused on: A) homicides; B) illegal guns on our streets: ghost guns and gun traffickers putting deadly weapons in the hands of criminals; C) drug traffickers who are killing people by peddling their deadly poisons like fentanyl and other drugs; and D) those who cause harm to women and children.”

In Bucks County, Weintraub said in October: “One trend we’re seeing across the state is younger and younger people, especially minors, are the population rising the quickest [for] carrying firearms.”

In January, Delco DA Stollsteimer wrote an op-ed promoting what he perceived as the greatest successes in his tenure.

“We have reduced the gun violence homicide rate in the City of Chester by 60 percent and the overall number of gun violence incidents by 46 percent,” Stollsteimer wrote. The only other measurement he provided in the piece was to say, “Through collaboration and innovation, my team has spearheaded a 30 percent reduction in the prison population here in Delaware County.”

Delaware County Council Member Kevin Madden asserted that a two-year drop in crime supported the collaborative push with Stollsteimer to drastically reduce the number of persons incarcerated at the county correctional facility, and the length of those stays.

“In 2020, [the county prison] population was nearly 1,900,” Madden said. “It’s really down by 35 percent in two years. That’s extraordinary. Our crime rates are lower than they were two years ago.”

Data from the UCR don’t support his assertion, however, at least in the most recent years and especially the ones in which the county’s management takeover of the correctional facility has coincided with the decarceration effort.

Arrests and prosecutions were notably lower in 2020 because of the pandemic. Therefore, when using the last non-pandemic year and measuring Delaware County’s total recorded incidents from 2019 to 2022, total incidents increased by ten percent. But to take Madden literally by comparing 2022 to 2020, total incidents were up 30 percent.

A request for comment to Madden on this issue was not returned.

In Chester County, the candidates are debating the extent to which crime trends have shifted in the county.

“In the last few years, you’ve seen crime in Philadelphia starting to creep out more and more into the counties. And it’s not just Philadelphia; it’s Wilmington,” Republican candidate Ryan Hyde said. “I talked to a narcotics (officer) the other day in Kennett Square, who told me most of the drugs in the lower part of the county are now coming up through Wilmington. And I know a lot of stuff is coming through Baltimore.”

Democrat candidate Chris de Barrena-Sarobe disagreed.

“But if you look at studies, crime is down across the board,” said de Barrena-Sarobe. “I don’t think there’s been a homicide in Chester County all year…My perception is there is no significant change in crime in Chester County.”

Both can claim to be correct, according to the statistics. Hyde’s assertion that Philadelphia crime is creeping out into the counties appears to be correct, even though Chester has been spared the brunt of the increase. Data for 2023 in Chester County shows there has been one offense tallied for murder/non-negligent manslaughter.

The most political change on crime in southeast Pennsylvania arguably landed last week, when Philadelphia Democrats chose former state representative and city councilor Cherelle Parker as the party nominee for mayor. Given the lopsided registration advantage Democrats enjoy in the city, Parker’s election as mayor in November against Republican David Oh seems a fait accompli.

“Parker’s path to victory was never guaranteed, but it was powered by Black and Latino voters — particularly residents of the poor and low-income neighborhoods hardest hit by the city’s gun violence crisis,” an Inquirer report noted. “Areas with the highest concentrations of shootings, particularly parts of North and West Philadelphia, handed Parker roughly half their votes in a field with five top contenders, an Inquirer analysis showed.”

A major plank of the Parker campaign was bolstering Philadelphia’s police ranks, worn down by the attrition of retirements and quittings, both of which seemed to accelerate in the heightened scrutiny of the post-George Floyd era that ushered in the #DefundThePolice movement.

Meanwhile, many municipal police leaders, police unions, and locally elected Republicans have been sounding the alarm for more than a year.

The House Republican Policy Committee (which is not an official committee within the General Assembly, but is a mechanism both parties use to discuss issues with various stakeholders which informs the drafting of legislation) has held two hearings on crime or public safety recently, one in early May, and the other in October.

In both cases, police officials, union leaders, and district attorneys pointed the finger — with varying degrees of subtlety — at Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, accusing him of fostering a region-wide culture that committing serious crimes was consequence-free.

In the October hearing, Bensalem Public Safety Director William “Bill” McVey did not mince words when claiming Krasner’s policies in Philadelphia were impacting the crimes in his township.

“This is an ongoing problem with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office of Philadelphia has also decriminalized retail theft if it’s under $500. This has had a devastating impact not only on Philadelphia, but on all surrounding municipalities. In Bensalem, retail theft is up 29 percent this year, and that’s after Macy’s is closed, Sears is closed, and K-Mart has closed — stores that typically had the most retail thefts in our township.”

At the same meeting, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub echoed those ideas, but was more circumspect about naming Krasner.

“The bottom line is the criminals don’t know the boundaries — they don’t know and don’t care about the boundaries between some lawless areas of the state, and some others that may be more law abiding,” Weintraub said.

The same themes were heard at the more recent hearing by the House Republican Policy Committee this May.

A request for comment on those ideas to the Philadelphia district attorney’s office was not returned.

Reporting on crime has long been a thorny issue because statistics can be hard to gather and standardize. That’s no different for the Pennsylvania UCR as the accuracy of the data is difficult to determine.

The Pennsylvania State Police, which maintain the website that smaller law enforcement agencies contribute their data to, says on the website, “The accuracy of the statistics depends primarily on the adherence of each contributor on established standards of reporting; therefore, it is the responsibility of each contributor to submit accurate data and to correct any data found to be submitted in error. It is important to note that participation in the program by law enforcement agencies is voluntary.”

​Broad + Liberty’s own reporting has called the data into question before. Last August, we reported that Upper Darby’s police department was underreporting homicides to the UCR, something the township’s police appeared to remedy after our article was published.

Among the many questions sent by Broad + Liberty to the local district attorneys in the collar counties was asking the degree of faith each DA had in the UCR as an indicator of crime trends in their jurisdiction.

Comprehensive crime reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigations used to be relied upon heavily by governments and the media, but have faltered recently as more major cities across the U.S. have stopped participating. Those reports also lag by well over a year, thereby making them less useful as a real-time tool for law enforcement agencies and policy makers.

Republican Policy Committee Visits Delco, Discusses Solutions to Youth Crime

How can we keep young people prone to getting into trouble out of jail yet also live in a safe society?

Two experts discussed restorative justice with the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee Monday at a hearing in the Concord Township Building.

Rep. Craig Willaims (R-Chadds Ford) enlisted panelists Greg Volz and Liam Power to discuss juvenile justice.

Volz, director of Youth Courts and a criminal justice instructor at Harcum College, said the goal is for kids to become good citizens and to shut down the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

He has run Youth Courts in the Chester Upland School District, Norristown Area High School, and many others.

The Youth Courts can keep students from being expelled or suspended and also keep them from entering the criminal justice system. He wants to see more Youth Courts in the justice system and schools.

He said that kids as young as fifth grade can get involved in Youth Courts, where the youngsters decide on their peers’ guilt and punishment. While Volz has set up Youth Courts at many area high schools, younger kids are often ideal candidates for the Youth Courts, he said.

“They’re still optimistic, excited to learn about the law,” he said.

Power currently chairs the Education Task Force for the state Office of Advocacy and Reform and spoke about the trauma-informed Pennsylvania plan.

Power said his task force has been working to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline through restorative practices, thereby preventing young people from getting involved in more serious crimes.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic increased preexisting trends of retirements of educators, mental health experts, counselors, and others, creating an increasing demand for these professions coupled with workforce shortages. He said these factors have made kids more likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system.

“Mental health is directly correlated with criminal justice involvement,” said Power. “With 1 in 4 people with a mental health condition being arrested in their lifetime. And 7 in 10 youth in the juvenile justice system, having a diagnosed mental health condition.”

A multifaceted approach is needed, including restorative practices and trauma-informed practices.

He said that youth courts can create empathy with law enforcement if they are involved.

Restorative practices also improve situations and reduce the criminal justice system’s involvement. A workforce development program can also help and provide people with the skills to earn “family-sustaining wages,” he said.

While Power did not go into detail about restorative justice practices, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, those programs use trained facilitators to bring the “responsible party” and the “harmed party” together with family and community members to “determine the appropriate response” and repair the damage.

“We need to fund off-ramps from the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Power. People are beginning to understand the effect of trauma on children.

Williams said he lost his brother to addiction in 2020. He said he would ask him why he couldn’t stop (using drugs). But that was the wrong question.

Later, he visited the George Hill Correctional Facility. Williams asked inmates going through drug rehab if they remembered the day they began to use. One told him the right question would be if he remembered the day his mother’s boyfriend sexually assaulted him.

“Since then, I’ve thought many times what it was (that) my brother went through,” he said. “I never asked that question, and I wish I had that opportunity back.”

“This idea of trauma-informed care, as I’ve become more and more an advocate for it locally, with our institutions, trying to bring it here,” said Willaims.

“How do we help a young man (because, more often than not, it’s young boys) understand his ‘why’ for his behavior? If we can help him or her get to their ‘why,’ maybe they can cure the behavior.”

“We need to provide off-ramps,” he said. “And I think that’s where we can be as a matter of statewide policy, which is absolutely rigid in our enforcement of the law, cracking down on crime and still providing off-ramps. We can hold those two thoughts simultaneously, protecting our community and helping people reform or restore, helping them understand their why.”

Power said, “Trauma-informed care and accountability do go hand in hand and are mutually inclusive in that respect. We must live in a place with accountability. We must enforce laws. But where trauma or past experiences create roadblocks in the minds of youth, the only way out of that, the only path forward is through building trust.”

He added, “We have to take the time, we have to see, we have to be human, we have to share sometimes of ourselves and be prepared to be vulnerable. When a youth trusts you, they will begin to believe you’re there to help them. And when they finally feel that sense of safety…everything will come through the way it needs to…Trust is the underpinning of this entire process from beginning to end.”


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As Philadelphia Goes, So Goes the Delaware Valley?

Why should suburban residents care about Philadelphia’s next mayor?

David Oh, a Republican running for Philadelphia mayor, said spreading crime is one reason. Economics is another. The city remains the major economic force in the area, and what happens in Philly ripples through the entire Delaware Valley.

“Philadelphia is a very important economic engine for this state, and it most dramatically impacts our surrounding counties. And for people in the suburbs, they oftentimes…experience the ability to enjoy a suburban lifestyle and yet go to the Eagles game, go to live entertainment in the city, go see the museums, enjoy what’s there in a big city while living, in a nice suburban setting,” said Oh, a lawyer who grew up in Philadelphia and served on the city council until stepping down to run for mayor.

“Unfortunately, they probably are not going take public transportation into the city like they used to, or they may not even drive into the city. It’s very difficult to have such a great amenity for them as universities and research and hospitals and all that great stuff in our city that you cannot visit and go out to dinner and things like that.”

“The other thing is that the crime in our city impacts our surrounding communities. One, unfortunately, crime imitates crime. People out in the counties start seeing the things that are happening in Philadelphia, and they emulate it.

“They also come into our city, and unfortunately, so many people who are addicted to heroin and things like that end up not just coming to our city but living here for years at a time (with) their parents and their loved ones trying to find them.”

“They’re only attracted to Philadelphia because we have the most hands-off policy where drug-addicted people end up in the most inhumane conditions on Kensington Avenue because of the policies of the city. That is to let them purchase their drugs, to let the drug dealers exist. And, by the way, the drug dealers (are) murdering each other because of so much money that is there,” said Oh.

Paul Martino, a Bucks County resident and owner of the new Philadelphia sports bar Bankroll, agrees that crime is a major problem for the city.

“Crime is one the primary issues facing the city of Philadelphia. Many suburbanites refuse to come to the city to visit its businesses, historical and cultural locations as a result. This is why people from Bucks and Montco are following this year’s Philly mayor’s race much more closely than prior years,” said Martino.

Jeff Jubelirer, vice president of Bellevue Communications, said, “What happens in Philly affects everyone in the region, albeit in different ways.  When suburbanites have a negative perception of Philadelphia – whether fair or not – the implications are tangible.

“They work, play, and visit the city, and their tax dollars and spending contribute to its betterment. Therefore, engendering confidence among suburbanites constitutes a critical task for Philadelphia’s next mayor,” Jubelirer said.

Guy Ciarrocchi, former president of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and a former Congressional candidate, likes Oh.

“He’s a good guy. Has really grown into his role—understands issues, how government works (and doesn’t) and focuses on people, not grandiose policies or ideology,” said Ciarrocchi, who grew up in South Philadelphia.

“We care not just in a good government or humanitarian way like I hope the drought in Sudan ends, because it impacts our quality of life,” Ciarrocchi said.  “It affects the growth of our economy—the companies that support and interact with major Philadelphia companies. And bad economics, bad schools and rising crime eventually come into the bedroom communities of the suburbs.”

“And, its also about our overall quality of life—from the zoo to the Franklin Institute, from the orchestra to the stadiums—as traveling to an annoying Philadelphia is a part of the reason many of us live in the suburbs—a car ride or train ride away.

“A growing, vibrant Philadelphia helps our economy and quality of life, A shrinking, decaying Philadelphia does the opposite.

“David can help by winning—or, at a minimum, being the grown-up and the kitchen-table candidate making sure that the campaign is about fighting crime, having good schools and helping businesses create jobs, rather than focusing on plastic straws and defunding the police,” said Ciarrocchi.

Albert Eisenberg, a political consultant and founder of BlueStateRed, also believes that Philadelphia and its mayor are important to the health of the suburbs.

“Suburban voters, and voters from across the state, should care very much who is elected mayor of Philadelphia,” said Eisenberg. “The city is the economic and cultural driver for our entire state, and with issues like crime spilling over the city line, higher taxes on business owners, and building a city and region that people actually want to move to, that will affect regular people in the collar counties as well. People should keep a close eye on David Oh and his campaign for mayor, especially with some very far-Left candidates with the potential to come out of the Democratic Primary in May.

Joyce Koh, of Bala Cynwyd, donated to Oh’s campaign. She believes a vibrant Philadelphia is with its diversity of arts, culture and food is “vital” to the suburbs.

“The city is like the warmth of the the sun,” Koh said. “If our sun is dying, our suburbs will fail.”

Mark Ruhl, a Chester County resident who supports Oh, said, “What goes on in the city affects the suburbs. We used to go into the city more but we stopped going in because we don’t feel safe any more.”

“And then we see, for example, when, when the lawlessness goes from Philadelphia out into the suburban areas, carjackings, you know, all kinds of shootings,” said Oh. “The thing about the crime today is it is traveling, traveling from the neighborhoods where it used to be contained, into Center City, into some of the nicer neighborhoods of Philadelphia and out into the suburban areas.

“We really need to stop that because the thing is, we have to stop the next generation and the following generation of violent criminals that is being created here in Philadelphia, because of really bad policies,” Oh said.

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Studies Show the Value of Fathers in the Home

In Abington, two teenagers carjacked an 82-year-old man at the Willow Grove mall. A fight near Upper Darby High School left a teen stabbed. A 16-year-old Bensalem boy allegedly shot a girl and asked for help disposing of her body over Instagram.

People shake their heads and ask, where are the parents? But the better question might be: Where are the fathers?

Rafael Mangual, head of research, policing, and public safety for The Manhattan Institute, a free market think tank, told DVJournal data reveals that having a father in their early childhood is key for boys to grow up to be productive, law-abiding people.

But the number of single-parent households, with the mother usually at the helm, keeps growing.

Mangual said, “There is a very clear association between the incidents of out-of-wedlock childbirth and delinquency and criminality in males.”

Two-parent households are “an institution whose primary path is raising and socializing children. Early childhood development is critically important.”

“One of the things the literature tells us is that when you have young boys around the ages of 5 to 7 who have developed conduct disorders, that becomes relatively predictive of future criminality in adolescents.”

But he cautioned, “The majority of those kids will turn out just fine. Those conduct disorders will get resolved either through psychological intervention or the passage of time.”

However, a. good portion of boys will develop conduct disorders that metastasize to anti-social dispositions, he said.

“One of the things we see in prison settings is a much higher rate of psychological conditions like substance abuse disorders or anti-social personality disorder” in men raised by single mothers, said Mangual.

Mangual noted that in the general population of men in the U.S., anti-social personality disorder affects between 2 and 4 percent. Depending on the facility, it is between 40 to 70 percent of men in prisons, a “massive disparity.”

The Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission suggests being raised by a single parent predicts juvenile crime. In 2021, more than 80 percent of every youth in juvenile court lived in a single-parent household.

Of those, about 48 percent lived with a single mother. And 15.5 percent lived with both their parents.

Michael Chitwood, retired Upper Darby police superintendent and former Philadelphia detective, said he had observed the phenomenon during his years in law enforcement.

“Without a father figure or male figure in their lives, they don’t listen,” Chitwood said. “Fathers hold them accountable.” He saw “over and over” when investigating homicides or other serious crimes, “more often than not, it was one-parent families for those who committed serious crimes.”

“It’s a sad trend,” Chitwood said.

Mangual said, “It doesn’t just come out of the blue. It often starts in early childhood. That suggests a high incidence of out-of-wedlock birth, and high rates of single-parent homes in which fathers are absent means that you are increasing the likelihood of the socialization process breaking down in early childhood.”

In Pennsylvania, 35 percent of children are raised in single-parent households, and in the U.S., single-parent family numbers have been rising since the 1950s and now stand at 34 percent.

The towns with the most single-parent families headed by women in the Delaware Valley are Bensalem in Bucks County, Pottstown in Chester County, Norristown in Montgomery County, and Upper Darby in Delaware County, according to the estimated U.S. Census five-year report.

Asked whether having other male role models like uncles or clergy can mitigate the lack of a father in a boy’s life, Mangual said, “There is some research that supports that. Neighborhoods with higher rates of potential role models have lower rates of crime. The problem is the difference between an uncle, or a pastor, or a teacher, and a father is, the father is in an ideal situation. He is going to be there all the time and will be there for those really important moments.”

Asked about how fatherless girls fare, Mangual said they are more likely to engage in self-harm, like eating disorders or other psychological disorders, rather than turn to crime and violence.

Mangual said anti-social personality disorder “is a lack of remorse, a lack of regard for future consequences, a lack of regard for other people, a very high sense of entitlement (in the clinical sense).”

What can be done to reverse the single-parent trend?

Mangual said it is more complicated than just encouraging couples to stay together. While, generally, two parents are better than one, “If one or both of those parents can be characterized by a history of anti-social behavior, then that can actually negate the benefits of two parents. Kids who have one parent might be better off if one of those two parents is anti-social in their disposition.”

And Mangual said he believes this “cultural and social” problem needs to be solved by society, not the government.

Although, “to the extent that welfare policy penalizes marriage or cohabitation between parents, there’s some cases where a family might lose benefits if a mother and father get married. That’s certainly something the government can look to change.”

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Officer Fitzgerald’s Father Urges Temple Family: ‘Make His Life Mean Something’

The bustling Temple University campus came to a stop Tuesday afternoon to remember the life of Officer Christopher “Fitz” Fitzgerald during a vigil at the Bell Tower.

A sea of students from football players to theater majors gathered to pay their respects to the 31-year-old Temple Police officer who, according to those close to him, died doing what he loved: Protecting the Temple family. He was the first member of the Temple force killed in the line of duty.

Bucks County resident Miles Pfeffer, 18, allegedly shot Fitzgerald Saturday night as the officer tried to stop three people in a robbery just off the Temple campus. Pfeffer disregarded Fitzgerald’s commands, shooting Fitzgerald in the head and then firing several more shots into his face, according to an affidavit.

U.S. Marshals took Pfeffer into custody at his  Buckingham Township home on Sunday morning.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first vigil we have held on campus,” said Temple Senior Vice President and Provost Gregory Mandell, who noted in 16 years it was by far the biggest crowd he had seen.

Officer Christopher Fitzgerald

“What took place Saturday night was a testament to his selflessness and today was an apt tribute and testimony to his life,” Mandell said.

Strong wind threatened the opening of the ceremony, sending the tent adorning the podium ripping through the crowd. Moments later someone in the audience tried to disrupt the ceremony, prompting a quick scuffle with members of the Fitzgerald family. After the protestor was escorted out, the service began.

The afternoon’s first speaker, Quaiser Abdullah, a communications professor and a chaplain with the Philadelphia Police Department, delivered a eulogy.

“What happened to Fitz is a glaring reminder that life is temporary,” Abdullah said, as members of the Temple Police Department looked on from the front row.

University President Jason Wingard urged the Temple community to bring meaning to Fitzgerald’s values, to return “to a place where love abides.”

“One of our deepest fears became true but what it can teach us is compassion,” Wingard said. “You all gather here every day to make the world a better place, to elevate yourselves path of dissent is the path of transformation.”

The most emotional moment came when Marissa Fitzgerald, the officer’s widow, addressed the crowd. “My life will never be the same,” she said of her husband and father of four children. “He did what he had to do for you [Temple students] to not have to hear a gunshot.”

Taylor Warren, a freshman studying media studies production and whose mother is also a Temple police officer, thought the vigil was an important healing moment for the university.

“I came here to pay my respect to him and my family,” Warren said.

Fitzgerald’s father, Joel Fitzgerald, Sr. served as a Philadelphia police officer for 17 years. He spoke about the example his son set for the Temple community.

“He took guns off the street for you, so I ask you to pay it forward. What will save this country is you who came here today to celebrate our son’s life.”

And he urged the students, “Make his life mean something.”


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New State Rep. Donna Scheuren: I Felt a Calling to Serve

Despite most Montgomery County residents sending Democrats to Harrisburg and Congress, 147th House District voters elected Republican Donna Scheuren in 2022.

“No doubt the 147th House District is unique, as it is a district completely within the confines of Montgomery County that chose a Republican to represent it,” said Scheuren. “I believe the voices of all residents need to be heard, whether those beliefs are from the left, the right, or the center.”

“I feel my responsibility is great,” Scheuren told Delaware Valley Journal. “I am honored to have been elected on the values and principles that I aspire to, and I know those shared values of good schools, low taxes, safe communities, opportunity, and decent paying jobs are held by the majority of the voters in the 147th district.”

Donna and Dave Scheuren

The 147th District consists of part of Montgomery County consisting of the Townships of Douglass, Franconia (part), Lower Frederick, Lower Salford, New Hanover, Upper Frederick, Upper Pottsgrove and Upper Salford.

It was formerly represented by GOP Rep. Tracy Pennycuick, now a state senator.

Scheuren served on the Souderton Area School Board where she chaired the finance committee, and touted her 30 years of business experience in her campaign.

“I have always fought for the best interests of the people,” said Scheuren. “As a small business owner, I’ve created jobs and know the pressures of meeting payroll. As a manufacturer’s rep, I’ve worked every day to grow or save jobs for thousands of employees in factories and manufacturing plants across the country.”

She has worked to “control and cut costs, negotiate contracts, grow revenue, improve processes, invest in people, and deliver quality outcomes in manufactured goods and services, or the total life experience of a student’s education.”

“I’ve been hearing both sides of an issue for most of my adult life and making the tough decisions that are in the best interest of all stakeholders – whether (they are) are business owners, factory workers or the consumer of finished goods, or local tax-paying residents, parents, staff, and students,” she said. “For in these volatile and challenging times, the voters of the 147th need to know they elected a leader with the qualified experience to serve on day one and should feel confident knowing that I will always work to implement the district’s legislative priorities.”

As the legislative session gets underway, Scheuren said she hopes to promote jobs, technical education, voter ID, and reduce taxes and crime.

“We must continue to reduce taxes and burdensome regulations, along with waste, abuse, and fraud, for our state to thrive and be an economic leader,” she said. “Building that trust also includes acknowledging the wishes of more than 70 percent of voters across the country that support Voter ID to restore confidence in our electoral process. Pennsylvania voters deserve to see that question on the May primary ballot.

And, “there is nothing more fundamental than a free and safe society, yet with crime on the rise in our cities and suburbs, residents are finding themselves more at risk. I fully support the law enforcement community and the training, technological advancements, and funding necessary to keep our businesses, schools, and homes safe from violence,” said Scheuren.

Asked why she decided to run, Scheuren said, “I have always been passionate about politics and felt a calling to serve. Once I saw the widespread effects of our state and nation being shut down by COVID, it was clear that common-sense solutions were needed in many aspects of government.”

Scheuren and her husband, Dave Scheuren, live in Lower Salford, where he serves as a township supervisor. In their free time, they enjoy cheering for Penn State.

“With generations of Scheuren family members graduating from Penn State, we are a PSU football family with the tailgating RV to prove it,” Scheuren said. “I enjoy interior design and decorating throughout the year for the change of season. I relish, however, planning and hosting parties, events, community gatherings, and all functions that help to bring family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues together. Life is short and meant to be celebrated.”


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Faced With Increasing Crime, Businesses Turn to Private Security Firms

In reaction to increased crime in Philadelphia, it has been widely reported a Philadelphia gas station owner has hired security guards toting AK-47s to protect his property, customers, and employees.

With 500 murders in Philadelphia as of Dec. 19 and 562 homicides last year, the state legislature has gotten involved with the House impeaching progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner and the Senate set for an impeachment trial in January.

And the Delaware Valley suburbs are not immune to violent criminal incidents.

On Dec. 18, an armed hit-and-run suspect got into a shootout with police near the King of Prussia Mall. An attempted carjacking has occurred at the Willow Grove Mall, and a driver was gunned down in a road-rage shooting in Springfield.

Tehlair Strong, a managing member of Eyewatch Protection, said his business is growing.

“We offer armed security patrol services and armed and unarmed guards,” he said. Typical customers are businesses and apartment complexes. They monitor various sites in the greater Philadelphia area.

“Everything that requires long-term security,” he said. “We’ve done exceptionally well” for the last few years, he said. “Even during the pandemic. Most of our clients are proactive and they’d rather have security than an incident.”

The private security industry began seeing rapid growth increase in 2010. Since then, the industry has continued to grow exponentially each year, explained Joseph Ferdinando of Building Security Services. He said it is now a $350 billion market, with $282 billion spent in the private sector and another $69 billion spent by the federal government.

More than $200 billion of the $282 billion spent in the private sector is heading to non-IT (information technology) sources. More than $80 billion is being spent on IT-related sources of security.

The City of Brotherly Love is also being hit by the national surge in organized retail crime (ORC), much of it driven by gangs.

According to United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT), in 2021 alone retail thefts in Pennsylvania totaled nearly $5.6 billion and cost more than $510 million in state and local taxes. In a recent DVJournal podcast, Alex Baloga with the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association talked about how “sophisticated” retail crimes like shoplifting and smash-and-grab robberies have become.

And, Baloga said, criminals take advantage when communities decline to enforce laws against these property crimes, moving from place to place. “We have seen where laws have been relaxed, there have been more brazen acts. These are organized, sophisticated criminals, not an average person who’s just down on his luck.”

Paul Levy, president of the Center City District in Philadelphia, said his organization had taken steps to help its member businesses combat crime. They included uniformed security guards and outreach to homeless people in the area.

By mid-fall, the CCD expanded its team of unarmed, uniformed safety ambassadors, known as Community Service Representatives (CSRs), from 42 to 50. It raised salaries for the CSRs in the spring. They “provide a friendly, helpful and highly recognizable presence on downtown sidewalks for more than three decades.”

The CCD is also expanding its bicycle safety patrol that works with the CSR program and the Philadelphia Police Department. As of September, CCD increased the uniformed bike patrols manned by Allied Universal, which operate seven days per week in two shifts, to more than 45 positions.

“So far this year, Part 1 (serious crimes) in CCD are 8.7 percent below 2019 levels,” Levy said. “It may not feel that way because headlines are focused on other stories and other major challenges like retail theft and a citywide epidemic of gun violence that remains appallingly high. But these too are problems within our control — amenable to a two-handed approach that brings law enforcement together with social services and job opportunities.”

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MANNES: Rising Crime Is a Referendum on Identity Politics

This piece first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

On November 20, 2022, FOX 29’s Steve Keeley reported that there were four homicides in just the last six weeks in the small Delaware County borough of Yeadon. As Keeley reported through his popular Twitter feed, that was more homicides than the entire four-plus year tenure of Yeadon Borough’s former Police Chief, Anthony “Chachi” Paparo. This is noteworthy because in February, Paparo was terminated by Yeadon’s Borough Council — an act Paparo alleges was done in order to replace him with an African American Police Chief, despite his having support from the Mayor, according to court filings in the federal discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Paparo and Lodge 27 of the Fraternal Order of Police in March.

Meanwhile, neighboring Philadelphia is facing another year of shocking violent crime. This comes three years after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney proclaimed that he would appoint an African American woman as police commissioner before a national search for the most qualified, experienced applicants was conducted. The result was the appointment of Danielle Outlaw, whose prior commands were as a Deputy Police Chief in Oakland and as Chief of the Portland Police Bureau. Oakland, which has 709 sworn members and Portland, with 795 sworn members, both saw an increase of crime during Outlaw’s tenure.

Philadelphia, with over 6,300 sworn members, is the nation’s fourth-largest police department, over nine times the size of Outlaw’s largest command. Since Kenney’s 2019 appointment of Outlaw, murders has shot up from 356 to 562 in 2021, with over 470 officially reported in 2022 so far, not counting over 103 “S-job” (suspicious deaths) which are likely to add to the official homicide tally at a later date. One must wonder if Kenney’s decision to restrict his search for commissioner within narrow gender and racial characteristics was prudent considering the life-and-death implications of the job.

In both Yeadon and Philadelphia, the harsh reality of murder rates raises questions as to the accountability of those charged with public safety – from both law enforcement executives and the elected politicians who oversee their appointment and the fair administration of justice. Traditionally, the appointment of police chiefs and commissioners was completely in the discretion of the Mayor or County Executive. As crime was always a major issue for which politicians were held accountable, these elected leaders historically ranked political optics behind track records when making appointments in this regard.

Outlaw’s last boss, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was quoted in a Philadelphia magazine piece on Outlaw saying “This position is inherently political, not in a partisan manner, but in the sense that it is under public scrutiny and maintaining public trust is done in a political environment. You have good instincts and judgment already, but learning more about political history and relationships in Portland is important to being successful in the position in the long term.” Ironically, Outlaw only served for two years as Portland’s police chief before leaving for Philadelphia. What’s more disturbing, as crime has emerged as a key issue in daily news coverage, is that there has been no public discussion of Outlaw’s effectiveness in her role, despite rising crime and scandals within her ranks.

Which brings us back to Yeadon. Last month, a federal judge denied the borough council’s motion to dismiss Paparo’s lawsuit against them. If the suit is successful, it will be one of the first to create case law on using identity politics, in this case race, to appoint and/or terminate a law enforcement executive.  The suit alleges the four individual defendants decided that Yeadon is “a black town,” and that that representation should be reflected with a black chief of police.

The suit claims Johnson called Yeadon Police Detective Ferdie Ingram on the morning of Jan. 3 to offer him the job, but he declined. Ingram allegedly told Johnson that he already had a police chief he supported. That support was also apparent in the community, the suit notes, with 1,100 people signing a petition aimed at keeping Paparo in the role. Paparo originally alleged four counts for violations of his equal employment and equal protection rights in a suit filed March 7, as well as a violation for failing to provide him with a fair and impartial due process hearing under the 14th Amendment.

He later added defamation, retaliation and false light claims following distribution of the flier titled “Ten Fast Facts Yeadon Residents Want to Know,” which he said was sent out to residents at taxpayer expense. The flier, attached as evidence to the amended complaint, notes that the same council members accused of racism in removing Paparo were actually the ones who hired him to begin with, over three other qualified Black candidates. Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins appeared on the Dom Giordano radio show on November 21, 2022, as a defender of Chief Paparo, noting that he would like to see Council bring Paparo back in light of their recent spike in homicides.

The events leading up to Kenney’s appointment of Outlaw in 2019 present similar questions. Mere weeks after being heralded a hero in his handling of an hours-long hostage siege in where six police officers were shot, Richard Ross abruptly resigned as Philadelphia Police Commissioner. While the resignation came in the wake of a sexual harassment suit (Ross wasn’t the alleged harasser,) sources within the Philadelphia Police Department noted friction between Ross and Kenney, specifically over Ross’ unwillingness to fire officers for a social media scandal in where no specific department protocols were violated, and differences over the use of the bully pulpit regarding District Attorney Larry Krasner’s radical charging and bail policies.

As an interim appointee, Kenney tapped Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter as Police Commissioner. Coulter, a career Philadelphia police officer whose start patrolling the streets of Kensington was documented in a 1991 episode of the series “Cops”, was well regarded by the rank and file of the department. However, it was shortly in Coulter’s tenure that Kenney publicly declared his decision to hire an African American woman to lead the department, which narrowed a national field to only three clear choices – Outlaw, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall.

Shortly thereafter, Outlaw was appointed, leaving many to wonder if the choice had anything to do with both Hall and Best’s strong reputations for speaking truth to power over their elected managers, especially in response to politically based decisions over law enforcement and termination of officers.

Hopefully, the outcome of Chief Paparo’s lawsuit or simply through public scrutiny in the upcoming election year – we can help local politicians remember that public safety appointments are too vital for our society to make using identity politics.

Personally, growing up in New York through the “crack explosion,” I recall the historic appointment of Lee Brown. He was the first African American Police Chief in Houston, then became NYPD Commissioner, and then returned to Houston as their first black Mayor. There is nothing wrong with firsts, but with something as vital as assuring the public safety of a major American city – you also have to be the best.

This is why we have laws that govern race and gender discrimination in employment, because the hiring and firing of people based on race is not only hurtful for the employees in the organization – but may result in further victimization of an already at-risk community.

A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his own experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system. He has served as a federal and municipal law enforcement officer and was the former Director, Office of Investigations with the American Board of Internal Medicine. @PublicSafetySME

TERZIAN: Vote Community First on November 8th

The new Republican Party in Chester County is forward-thinking and has been working hard to reach Chester County residents and engage voters. We are focused on relevant issues important to all Chester County residents, including escalating crime and drugs in our communities, a faltering economy that has caused significant distress for many families, and parents being shut out of decision-making concerning their children’s education.

The new Republican Party in Chester County is solution oriented. We are an inclusive organization. We welcome all those who support our vision to make the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality for all.

Unfortunately, our opponents use highly charged rhetoric to divide us and have embraced failed policies that hurt our community. They use words like “extreme” to label and distract, and vilify those who disagree with them. We have a sitting member of Congress who claims to be bipartisan but called Republicans “diseased” and needing to be “cleansed”. They signal “hate has no home” but do not live up to this mantra. They preach tolerance but are intolerant of dissenting views. We reject their approach.

Our community deserves better.

For the new Republican Party in Chester County, it is about Community First. We understand and respect the value of relationships and working as a team. We believe, as neighbors and people of goodwill, and regardless of political party affiliation, that we can work together to make our communities safer and support the efforts of law enforcement.

We believe in economic opportunity for all and that support for small businesses is essential, particularly after the devastating impact of unreasonable closures. We believe that parents have valid concerns about the educational environment in which their children are being taught and that parents are not “domestic terrorists” when they express these concerns and their right to free speech.

Our opponents have attempted to make the debate about preserving democracy. But preserving democracy requires authentic leadership that invites opposing points of view, seeks to find common ground, and promotes an improved quality of life for all citizens. They have failed to meet this standard.

Clearly, this is a pivotal time for our county, our state, and our nation. All elections matter, but this one is critical. There is much at stake because the direction we choose will have an impact for generations to come.

Chester County residents have an important decision to make on Election Day. Do we continue to elect leaders whose failed policies have led to current problems? Or do we reclaim our communities by voting for candidates who advocate for common-sense solutions and policies that empower individuals, families, and businesses?

The answer is clear. We must elect leaders who prioritize their constituents and not their own personal agendas. On Tuesday, November 8th, the voters of Chester County should reject the status quo of higher crime, higher prices, and higher government interference in our lives. Our Republican slate of candidates from top to bottom will deliver an agenda that empowers and puts people first.

It’s time to restore hope and optimism in our community.

Vote Republican on Tuesday, November 8th.

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GIORDANO: Debates Matter — And They Should

Are you amazed that a key state like Pennsylvania–in an election cycle that might change the history of our country– will end up having only one debate for the two highest offices being contested? If you’re like me, you might also be tired of pundits droning on TV that voters don’t make decisions based on what occurs in debates.

Is there any doubt that the Oz-Fetterman debate shook up the race?

More importantly, it underlined the seriousness of the issues that Fetterman still faces. The Insider Advantage poll taken the day after the debate had Oz leading Fetterman by 47.5 percent to Fetterman’s 44.8 percent. A subsequent poll released by Wicks Insights had Oz at 47.6 percent and Fetterman at 45.9 percent. It also was telling that among undecided voters, Oz led Fetterman 64.4 percent to 35.6 percent.

On my radio show, Dr. Oz told me he regrets the debate moderators did not spend enough time talking about crime. By my count, the actual time spent on crime was a little over two minutes. It was fine to spend ample time on abortion positions because there was a lot of contention over the positions of the two candidates. Oz made it clear once again he supports exceptions to abortion bans in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. It is unclear to me, but I sense that Fetterman is for abortion rights in any situation and time frame.

As I said, the moderators made a big mistake by not allowing the candidates to debate their visions on personal safety. Crime is the issue that distinguishes these two candidates and the issue that filtered back into the race. It is the issue across the country that people care about the most after their deep concerns over inflation. A central part of this debate should have been Fetterman’s defense of his work as chairman of the state Pardons Board and his views on sentencing convicts to life in prison.

This was even more important because Fetterman supports the policies of radical Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. Of course, Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives announced last week they will formally try to impeach Krasner on various grounds in the near future by adding some days to their legislative session.

There is quite a backstory to this development. Republican leaders were afraid to go forward with impeaching Krasner because it would be done in retaliation to their guys in various offices. However, their members in the House revolted and forced them to move on to impeachment. As I have said many times before, Larry Krasner will be impeached. If Oz beats Fetterman, it will be more about the Democrats’ radical positions, particularly on crime, rather than his difficulties brought about by his stroke.

Regarding these after-effects and what they mean regarding Fetterman’s ability to serve as a senator, he could resolve some of the debate by releasing his complete medical records from his cardiologist and neurologist. They would give insight to voters about his cognitive ability and possible future issues.

There is a good chance that this Senate seat will determine which party holds the majority in the Senate. I believe Republicans will overwhelmingly take back the House of Representatives. If Dr. Oz beats Fetterman, President Joe Biden’s unprecedented spending will be stopped, and we will slowly roll back inflation.

If that happens, we’ll think back to the one debate between major candidates held in Pennsylvania this year and remember debates often do matter.

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