BUCKS COUNTY – August 25, 2022 – Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) was joined by state and local officials, prosecutors, and gun violence prevention advocates in Doylestown to announce $50 million in state grant funds for a new program to help law enforcement and District Attorneys investigate and prosecute gun crimes.
The Gun Violence Investigation and Prosecution Grant Program was funded in this year’s budget using American Rescue Plan Funds, thanks to a push by Senator Santarsiero and other Democratic lawmakers and will be administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Joining Senator Santarsiero at the press conference at the Bucks County Justice Center were the Senate Appropriations Democratic Chair Vince Hughes (D-7), Senator Jimmy Dillon (D-5), Deputy District Attorney for Bucks County David Keightly, Jr., Chair of the Bucks County Commissioners Bob Harvie and Bucks County volunteer leader with CeaseFire PA Aileen Bochanski.
“Keeping our communities safe, in Bucks County and across the Commonwealth, requires supporting our local law enforcement and prosecutors with the resources to do their jobs,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “As we continue to fight the gun violence epidemic we must focus on prosecuting gun crimes, investigating and preventing straw purchases and implementing reasonable gun safety measures to protect children, families and our law enforcement community.”
Grants will be awarded to district attorneys and law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute violations of the firearms act and crimes of violence. Grant funds may be used to:
- Improve and enhance coordination between Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies,
- To support personnel costs;
- To purchase technology systems, initiatives that support the tracing of firearms used to commit crimes; and,
- Any other efforts that aid in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of crimes.
“Finding the solution to the gun violence crisis plaguing our communities is a complex and arduous task; however, it is one we are not giving up on. This historic, new $50 million investment will give district attorneys additional new resources to better investigate gun crimes and to prosecute those making our communities less safe. This is just one of three measures my colleagues and I, with the full support of Governor Tom Wolf, were able to get included in the ’22-’23 state budget to improve public safety and combat gun violence, and we look forward to seeing the impact all three will have on making our commonwealth an even better place to live.” Ten percent of available grant funds will be reserved under the program for county district attorney’s offices and law enforcement agencies serving rural communities. The remaining funds are available on a schedule based on municipal size and population, which can be found here.
David Keightly, Jr. spoke of the need for additional staff to investigate and build strong cases, saying “We don’t want to be satisfied with working backwards. We want to be able to work forwards, using this money to figure out purchase trends, suspicious trends among people who keep buying firearms and their guns keep winding up on the street. We want to be able to tackle that before these guns hit the streets. A lot of what we need right now is technology and manpower, and that is exactly what this grant money will be used for if we were to receive it.”
Support for the program was echoed by community advocates, including representatives from CeaseFire PA. “For too long, our communities have faced gun violence without the resources necessary to intervene and prevent it before a life is lost,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFire PA. “Now, thanks to leaders like Sen. Santarsiero and Senator Hughes, we’re now investing in a safer community.”
The full press conference can be viewed here.