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Crime in Collar Counties Largely Drops From ‘22 to ‘23, but Auto Thefts Still Stubbornly High

(This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.)

Crime in Philadelphia’s four suburban counties largely dropped in 2023 when compared to the previous year, but in a statistical sense, many of those gains are being wiped out by large numbers of auto thefts continuing to plague southeast Pennsylvania, according to a Broad + Liberty analysis of the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting database.

Taking a wider view and comparing 2023 to 2018, the total number of “Part 1” offenses was up in Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware counties, but down in Chester County. “Part 1” offenses include most major felonies which are usually split into two categories: violent crimes like murder, rape, aggravated assault and others, or property crimes like burglary, car theft, or arson.

The data — especially the drop from 2022 to ‘23 — largely jibe with reports from earlier this spring noting that FBI statistics also showed a drop in violent crime over the same time frame, “continuing a downward trend after a pandemic-era spike,” according to the Associated Press.

But auto thefts continue to be the outlier in southeast Pennsylvania, with the spike that started in 2021 yet to be contained. Over the last two years, law enforcement officials all across the country have blamed a large part of the problem on a TikTok video that exposed security weaknesses in Kia and Hyundai cars, showing exactly how easy it was to break into those vehicles.

For example, from 2022 to ‘23, Bucks County saw significant drops in eight of eleven categories, such as a 50 percent drop in homicides, a 24 percent drop in robbery, and a 26 percent drop in arson. However, auto thefts were up twenty percent.

Bucks County District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said in general, the numbers in her county are encouraging and reflect law enforcement’s commitment to target violence.

“Over the past few years, our office has focused resources on fully investigating and prosecuting those who illegally possess, purchase, manufacture, and traffic firearms,” she said. “Working with local, state, and federal partners, our Bucks County District Attorney’s Drug Strike Force has disrupted several organizations that offer illegally purchased, stolen, or privately manufactured for sale on the illegal market, in turn removing guns from the streets and saving countless lives.

“The increase in auto thefts is something we continue to work on every day through investigations and initiatives, including steering wheel lock giveaways to help mitigate the number of thefts to the affected Hyundai or Kia models. Last year, detectives and prosecutors with this office led the takedown of a massive catalytic converter theft ring that we are hopeful will serve as a deterrent to anyone considering stealing vehicle parts or vehicles in Bucks County.

If there is a noticeable gap in the coverage provided by the UCR database, it’s that it does not track firearm statistics, a category many district attorneys have focused on in recent years.

Delaware County saw the most number of categories with increases with four: robbery, aggravated assault, auto theft, and arson. Montgomery saw double-digit drops in seven categories. Chester County saw the best decline when comparing 2023 numbers to 2018, showing broad drops across seven categories across that six-year period.

Requests for comment to the district attorney’s offices in Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware counties were not returned.

The battle against auto thefts is mainly a phenomenon of southeast Pennsylvania.

Using the same data from the Uniform Crime Report, Philadelphia represents 70 percent of all auto thefts reported statewide. When folding in the four collar counties to that calculation, the five-county area accounts for 80 percent of all auto thefts reported statewide.

Even with the overall trends pointing down, crime still figures to be a prominent feature in the 2024 presidential, senate, and other races in Pennsylvania and across the country, with the election now exactly six months away.

Gallup poll from March showed crime is the second biggest concern for the country, right behind inflation.

The statistics below are sourced from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Report. The numbers presented are raw offenses only, and do not include other data like arrests, number of cases charged, or percent of cases cleared.







DelVal Pols Step Up for Veterans As Independence Day Approaches

Delaware Valley politicians want to do their part for veterans, and they have stepped up their efforts in the legislature and on the street as Independence Day approaches.

A pro-veteran resolution supported by multiple senators, including Montgomery Sen. Tracy Pennycuick and Bucks Sen. Frank Farry, unanimously passed the Senate last Thursday, Farry told DVJournal.

If it is approved, the resolution would “direct the Joint State Government Commission to establish the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care.”

Farry said he was moved to support the proposal after hearing from constituents about the shortfalls in healthcare for female veterans.

“The impetus of it was, in working with some of my veterans at home, I came to realize—people can talk about the VA (Veterans Affairs) and the level of service they get, but in the case of women, it was so much more extreme in terms of lack of service,” he said.

“Even though that’s more of a federal responsibility, that doesn’t mean we as a state can’t take a look at the issue,” he continued. “It’s important that our veterans have the proper care. And if there are specific needs for women, we want to make sure those resources are available for our female veterans.”

Pennycuick told DVJournal women “continue to make up a growing percentage of our nation’s armed services and veteran community.”

The senator claimed “nearly 60,000 women veterans in Pennsylvania” and that “by 2045, it is estimated that women will make up approximately 18 percent of commonwealth veterans.”

“As a veteran myself, I know the struggles firsthand female veterans experience trying to obtain care to match their unique needs,” she said. “Establishing the Women Veterans’ Health Care Task Force will help to bridge these gaps and ensure that every veteran has access to the care they deserve.”

The resolution would direct the task force to include “a mental healthcare provider” with relevant experience working with veterans, along with both a “substance abuse and addiction treatment provider” and a “healthcare provider,” each possessing similar experience. Veterans have historically faced mental health, addiction, and healthcare problems at higher rates than the general population.

Farry said the task force “is a crucial step in ensuring female veterans have access to health care designed to support their specific needs.”

“I am proud to support this resolution and will continue to advocate for those that risk everything in service to our country,” he said.

At the local level, Republicans in Chester County will hold a clothing drive for veterans in what has become an annual tradition every Fourth of July.

The Republican Committee of Chester County will serve several dozen veterans at the third RCCC Veterans’ Clothing Drive. The program is a function of the RCCC Charis Community Outreach Program. (The word “charis” is derived from a Greek word meaning “kindness” or “life.”)

John DeSantis, an organizer with the RCCC, told DVJournal that the event began small three years ago.

“We started very locally with the West Goshen Township Republican Committee,” DeSantis said. “It was [RCCC Charis Community Outreach Director] Dave Sommers who came up with the idea to collect clothes for the veterans and tie it into July 4th.”

Sommers “took that idea to the county committee and said, ‘We’re doing a lot of good stuff with the West Goshen GOP; can we move some of this stuff up to the county level?’ And that was approved.”

“We ask for what the vets are looking for,” DeSantis said. “We get a list of T-shirts, shorts, underwear, and socks. This year there are some sunglasses requests.”

“They’ve also started a Food Pantry at the VA,” he said. “So we have some food donations to take over.”

Meanwhile, Sens. John Kane (D-Chester) and Maria Collett (D-Montgomery) are among those lining up behind another pro-veteran bill in the Senate; this one meant to support veteran-owned businesses in the state.

Senate Bill 438 would, if passed, “authorize the creation of special logos to promote veteran-owned businesses,” Senate Republicans said in a release.

Participating businesses must be 51 percent owned by “a veteran, reservist or member of the National Guard.” Half of the registration fees associated with the program would benefit the Veterans’ Trust Fund, which distributes grants to nonprofit groups assisting veterans throughout the state.

Montgomery Democratic Sen. Maria Collett told DVJournal she was “pleased to see [the bill] pass out of committee this week.”

“According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, veterans are 45 percent more likely to start their own business than non-veterans,” she said. “I’m honored to represent a district with such a strong military presence and legacy, and I’m proud to support legislative efforts like this to better support veterans across our Commonwealth.”

“It is not easy to transition from serving our great country to civilian life,” Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver), the bill’s primary sponsor, said.

“The men and women who wish to run their own business while navigating life after military service are inspiring and deserve our support,” she said. “In addition to supporting our veterans, this program would also support the creation of new jobs and business opportunities.”

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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.

DelVal Dems Vote Against Bill to Keep Men Out of Women’s Sports

All three Democrats representing the Delaware Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act Thursday, which passed in a party-line 219-203 vote.

The bill would allow women to compete in sports without being forced to face off against males.

“For purposes of determining compliance with Title IX . . . in athletics, sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” the bill reads. Senate Democrats are expected to prevent it from coming to the floor for a vote.

“We have come too far as women to allow biological men to compete against us in sports and for college scholarships,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) via Twitter. “It is total bull****!”

Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, Chrissy Houlahan, and Madeleine Dean all voted against the bill and in favor of allowing males who identify as female to participate in women’s sports. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) voted with the GOP majority in favor of women-only sports competitions.

Neither Scanlon, Houlahan, nor Dean would answer questions about their vote.

However, Houlahan did post a press release on her website calling the bill “an attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society—our transgender community.” She called the measure a “cynical vote” and urged Congress to “leave these infrequent conversations to students, parents, doctors, and schools who can make decisions based on kindness, inclusivity, and understanding, not fear and vitriol.”

Critics noted that leaving the issue to local schools is impossible because the Biden administration has issued a federal order arbitrarily redefining the word “sex” in Title IX to include “stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” The White House has also forbidden school districts from issuing blanket bans on biological male athletes competing in women’s sports.

Scanlon posted a video on Twitter earlier in the week telling transgender-identified individuals she would “never stop standing up for you and standing against hatred.”

Pat Poprik, chair of the Bucks County Republican Committee, told Delaware Valley Journal in a statement that she supported the bill.

“I speak to voters daily, and nearly all of them are in favor of protecting women and girls’ sports,” Poprik said. “The failure of Democrats to support this bill, once again, shows how out of touch they are to what is important to our hardworking families in our community.”

A similar proposal was passed by both houses of Pennsylvania’s legislature last year. 

The state “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” stipulated that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women or girls … may not be open to students of the male sex.”

The bill had been introduced by five women legislators in the Pennsylvania House, with Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) stating that the legislation would “ensure all female athletes have a level playing field to compete and win.”

“Science and common sense tell us that males are generally bigger, faster, and stronger than females,” White said. “These are all advantages that cannot be undone.”

That bill passed by strong majorities in both the state House and Senate, though it was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in July. The governor had slammed the measure as “transphobic.”

The issue of transgender athletes has become a cultural flashpoint nationally in recent years, with Republicans often pushing to keep sports divided by sex and Democrats arguing that males should be allowed to compete against young women at the high school and college levels.

However, even left-leaning news outlet NPR was forced to issue a correction when it falsely reported that “there is limited scientific research” supporting the “physical advantage” males have over females in athletic competitions.

Last week, high school volleyball player Payton McNabb testified before the North Carolina legislature about “suffering severe head and neck injuries resulting in long-term concussion symptoms” after a male player who identifies as female spiked a ball in her face, a local TV station reported.

“Due to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association policy allowing biological males to compete against biological females, my life has forever been changed,” McNabb said.

“Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is dangerous. I may be the first to come before you with an injury, but if this doesn’t pass, I won’t be the last.”

DelVal Hit With Crime Wave

Comic Collection owner David Schwartz operated in Feasterville for decades without problems, until two masked men barged into his establishment last month while he was doing inventory.

One claimed to be searching for his wallet, but shocking footage showed one of the men swiping a ladder out from underneath the store owner’s feet with the ferocity of a linebacker as he reached for a statue on a shelf. Schwartz tumbled to the ground, cracking his ribs as the two men beat and kicked him, then bound him with zip ties. One brandished a knife, and the men demanded Schwartz instruct them how to open the cash register before stuffing about $16,000 worth of merchandise into duffel bags.

Before leaving the store, they lifted one final keepsake off Schwartz – a Mickey Mouse watch his father bought him as a boy. Luckily, a neighbor noticed the suspicious men and called police who rescued the store owner.

“I’m very happy that I’m here today to talk to you about this. I don’t want to see it happen to anyone else ever,” Schwartz said during a state House committee hearing convened last week by lawmakers raising alarms about crime infiltrating the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Law-enforcement officials from Bucks and Montgomery counties testified about a stark uptick in violent crime and property crimes and identified increasingly scary drug trends in other parts of the state. There were reports of fentanyl being packaged up like “Skittles and Razzles” along with another deadly drug, xylazine, known as “tranq,” that has overtaken Philadelphia’s heroin and fentanyl supply.

Some former prosecutors and law-enforcement officials attribute it to a “spillover effect” from Philadelphia, which set a record for homicides last year and has seen more than 1,000 carjackings in 2022.

“It’s the disorder in Philly. It’s an open-air crime market, and they’re not prosecuting any crimes. It’s the Kranser effect,” said Tom Hogan, former Chester County district attorney, referring to the city’s progressive DA who lawmakers are trying to impeach.

In Cheltenham, for example, the number of strong-armed robberies has doubled, Sgt. Michael Moore said. In Warrington, about 35 miles north of Philadelphia, Police Chief Dan Friel testified about a more than 360 percent spike in credit card frauds from last year, along with several robberies of the local Target. Many out-of-town fraudsters come to Warrington to commit crime knowing they’re less likely to be recognized.

Separately, Guy Ciarrocchi, a Republican running for Congress in Chester and Berks counties, told DVJournal about a carjacking at a Target in Devon, an armed robbery at a Whole Foods in Tredyffrin and a stabbing at a Bertucci’s on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne.

Grab-and-go shoplifters have targeted suburban stores like Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart, in part, law-enforcement officials say, because they’re viewed by criminals as “soft targets.”

“These guys are like our Border Patrol,” Rep. Frank Farry (R-Langhorne) said during the hearing of law enforcement’s efforts to contain the spread of violence.

It’s hard to determine whether crime is up statewide after the FBI transitioned to a new data collection system, called the National Incident-Based Reporting System. The FBI estimated that murders rose 4 percent nationwide compared with 2020 while overall violent crime was down about 1 percent. But the report was incomplete because thousands of law enforcement agencies hadn’t submitted data, according to the Marshall Project. Only 40 of more than 1,500 in Pennsylvania had done so.

In Bensalem, Public Safety Director Bill McVey said of the more than 3,800 crimes reported to his department in 2021, about 1,700 were serious offenses such as murder, rape and robber.

Crime was up about 12 percent from the previous year, and 42 percent of arrests in 2021 were people from Philadelphia, some out on bail for other crimes, McVey said.

Officials say the spike is due to several factors that included laxer prosecutions of certain crimes in the city, decriminalization of retail thefts under $500, lack of proactive policing that has hamstrung Philly officers and an increase in people who resorted to drugs to cope with mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Crime is very real here,” Rep. Todd Polinchock (R-Chalfont) said at the hearing. “A lot of folks are worried for themselves, their kids. There’s a rash of crime going on now and we have to get ahold of it.”

Matt Weintraub, the Republican district attorney of Bucks County, claimed about 70 percent of crimes in in Bucks County were related  or fueled by drugs and alcohol.

With an influx of cases overwhelming local medical and jail systems, Weintraub has pushed for the county to build a crisis stabilization unit, dubbed “Stable U,” on land that could be acquired from a local health provider for $1. Local government officials so far secured $5 million toward the project, which needs another $5 to $7 million to get off the ground, Weintraub said.

“We’ve been knocking at the door. Let us be the guinea pigs,” he told legislators. “We mean business. We just need more funding.”

Others say solving crime in the region is tied to cracking down on repeat offenders.

Some law-enforcement officials voiced support for a proposal from Farry that would require mandatory minimums for convicted felons found with guns, with penalties starting off with 11 months in the slammer and increasing to five and 15 years for subsequent offenses.

Others blamed progressive policies they say handcuff police officers’  ability to prevent crime, such as Philly’s ban of minor traffic stops.

McVey said it’s one less tool for Philly cops. And it’s been an effective one for Buck County cops, who stop between 10,000 to 14,000 vehicles each year, often leading to discovery of other crimes, McVey said.

Gun seizures in the township are up 62 percent the last two years.

“Many of these guns are seized as a result of proactive measures which prevent shootings and tragedies from occurring,” McVey said.

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Thinking of a Staycation? Here’s What the Delaware Valley Has to Offer

As gas prices continue to hit record highs and sky-high airfares remain elevated, staycations are becoming an attractive summer vacation option for many Pennsylvanians.

Fifty-three percent of Americans say the price of gas will limit their travel plans, according to a survey by Harvest Hosts released in early May. That figure was especially high with older travelers. A Rasmussen Reports survey released last week also revealed 57 percent said gas prices are affecting their vacation travels.

If residents do choose a staycation, they would join a trend of more residents staying local for travel in recent years, local tourism officials said.

Rachel Riley, assistant vice president of communications at the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board, said the pandemic already has been increasing the number of staycations.

“During 2020, you could only really go local,” she said.

That trend is still elevated, Riley added. She says she thinks that is because people are now interested in exploring their backyard.

President and COO of Visit Bucks County Paul Bencivengo said despite increased interest in locals’ own neighborhoods, there is still more to see.

“I guarantee, there’s a new shop, bakery, something to do, that you haven’t seen before,” he said. “A lot of our partners used (COVID) to maybe do some upgrades, as well as even bring new programming onboard, and new exhibits.”

Nina Kelly, director of marketing and communications for the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau, suggested visiting lesser-known gems throughout the region.

“A lot of people don’t know all of greater Philadelphia is America’s Garden Capital,” she said. “There are a lot more gardens than just Longwood.”

With more than 30 gardens within 30 miles of the city, Kelly said visitors can feel a world away from home.

Other suggestions for activities in Chester County include visiting Baldwin’s Book Barn, a five-story bookstore home to more than 300,000 texts. Or travel over to West Chester to experience the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center, one of the few museums in the country dedicated to rotary flight.

Kelly also thinks the Brandywine River Museum of Art, featuring Wyeth family works, is a must-see for residents who want to understand the rich history the area has and don’t want to take it for granted.

For perfect family activities, Riley suggested the Elmwood Park Zoo, Legoland Discovery Center in Plymouth Meeting, and Arnold’s Family Fun Center in Oaks just to name a few. With the King of Prussia Mall, Philadelphia Outlets, and many main street business destinations across the area, there is no shortage of shopping options.

Riley added a summer savings pass is available for download for consumers to get exclusive savings at participating restaurants and attractions. There is also Crave Montco Month all of July, which Riley described as “restaurant week on steroids.”

And if you want to make it a real getaway, Riley said Montgomery County has 80 first-class hotels.

Bencivengo said residents can visit Upper Bucks for more outdoor activities, like at Lake Nockamixon, Ringing Rocks Park, and Van Sant Airport. Plus, there is access to main streets like Quakertown’s to satisfy consumer needs.

In Lower Bucks, visit the estate of William Penn at Pennsbury Manor, or see a show at the Bucks County Playhouse or Bristol Riverside Theater. Sesame Place is perfect for the family, while adults may prefer to explore the wide variety of wineries, distilleries, and breweries throughout the county.

And whether you prefer commercial options or boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, there are a plethora of places to stay overnight.

By staying close to home, all three officials added you are not just saving money out of your own pocket, you are also helping local and typically small businesses survive. And with so much to offer, they think doing so is the perfect summer plan.

“This is affordable,” Riley said about vacationing in the area. “It’s a great location, easy to get to, but still tons of quality.”

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