Suburban leaders blast Philadelphia DA Krasner for crime wave

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(The Center Square) — Suburban Philadelphia legislators and law enforcement officials lambasted the city’s crime policies, blaming District Attorney Larry Krasner for not prosecuting criminals.

“My district has seen an increase in crime in our area — a majority of which is not even committed by Bensalem residents but by individuals crossing over the border from Philadelphia,” Rep. Kathleen C. Tomlinson, R-Bensalem, said during a House GOP Policy Committee hearing on crime.

Tomlinson said she had a “rude awakening” about crime levels in her district once she was elected.

“It is clear that our cities are spiraling out of control, businesses are leaving, people don’t feel safe, our police are being targeted, and innocent lives are being lost,” she said.

Jennifer Schorn, first assistant district attorney of Bucks County, echoed Tomlinson.

“There is no question that the crime spree in Philadelphia spills over into border towns and border counties,” Schorn said. “Thankfully we’re able to address that, but that does not mean we should accept that this is how we should live our life.”

She noted a rise in catalytic converter thefts, robberies, mail thefts, a “frightening” rise in carjackings, and crime related to the drug xylazine, a sedative also known as tranq because it’s used by veterinarians as an animal tranquilizer.

“There is no longer any sense of consequence from criminals,” William McVey, director of public safety for Bensalem Township, said.

McVey has criticized Philadelphia’s driver equity law as a danger that undermines proactive police tactics and said 40% of the township’s arrests are of Philadelphia residents, up from 10% a few years ago.

He also derided “the decriminalization of crimes like retail theft by Mr. Krasner” and “the catch-and-release bail system” of Philadelphia.

“Without a system of justice that holds these criminals accountable and places more focus on victims of crime — which everyone forgets about — we will continue to be plagued by what we’re seeing play out on the streets of Philly and Bucks County,” McVey said.

Though crime in Philadelphia has spiked since the pandemic, violent crime has started to fall in almost every category, sometimes significantly. Through August, the city had almost 100 fewer homicides in 2023 compared to a year ago, and 200 fewer robberies with a gun.

Yet trouble remains.

Dominic Varacallo, chief of police in Upper Southampton, noted that Philadelphia’s driver equity law would have prevented them from arresting someone charged with murder who was stopped for a tinted-window violation.

“It is sickening to read the criminal histories of these individuals and to know that law enforcement, time and time again, arrests these people. We have cops that are out there doing the right thing for the right reasons, they’re arresting these people, and they’re getting before judges that are releasing them back into the community,” Varacallo said. “All they do is wreak havoc on communities … and something has to change.”

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