Siptroth seeks to combat rising crime

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:32

    HARRISBURG - State Rep. John Siptroth, who represents portions of Pike and Monroe counties, is presenting a package of crime fighting proposals for consideration this week during the state House of Representative’s Committee of the Whole session being held to discuss issues concerning crime and violence in Pennsylvania. Siptroth has prepared three proposals geared to reducing crime and violence in Monroe and Pike counties, and across the state. • The first proposal would change existing law that limits the number of state police officers in Pennsylvania. The 1929 law caps the number at 3,940 officers, excluding those assigned to duty with the Turnpike Commission or as resident state troopers. Siptroth’s plan would eliminate the cap. • His second proposal would allow private communities of 100 homes or more to apply for special police to patrol their communities, and would require those police to have the same training, and the same power and authority, as municipal police officers. Compensation for these special police would be borne by the community’s developers or homeowners’ association. “There are approximately 25,000 homes in my legislative district which are in private communities, and a majority of my residents live within gated and non-gated communities -- communities where state police cannot enter unless they are responding to an emergency or invitation,” Siptroth said. “Without regular police patrols, there is simply inadequate police coverage for these residents.” • Siptroth’s third proposal would create a program under the state Department of Community and Economic Development to offer grants to municipalities to develop youth community centers. The measure would allocate $5 million in state funds and require communities to commit a minimum of 10 percent in matching funds for the community centers. “By providing our young people with a safe and fun place to spend free time, we can reduce the likelihood of them participating in criminal and gang activities,” Siptroth said. “My proposals comprise a multi-tiered solution to the growing crime problem in some of our communities,” he said. “There are no easy solutions, and I am glad the legislature is addressing the issue on a statewide scale. Many people consider crime a big-city problem, and that is simply not accurate.” Siptroth said he is also exploring the possibility of legislation that would allow the state police to patrol in private communities like those common in Monroe and Pike counties. He said the police presence would act as a crime deterrent, as well as help combat DUI and speeding violations.