Last year, Republican State Rep. Martina White issued a statement after 31 shootings and seven homicides occurred on one weekend in Philadelphia.
“Once again Philadelphians endured a bloody weekend that saw a terrible spike in gun violence that claimed people of all ages and from all areas of the city. Mayor Jim Kenney said these incidents were a ‘crisis.’ They are: A crisis in leadership caused by a district attorney who will not fully prosecute gun offenders.”
In her statement, she noted that in the PA House they’ve passed laws to keep gun offenders behind bars for years, but these laws will not work if Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner refuses to prosecute under these laws.
“By sending gun offenders to a court diversionary program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, criminals are given a second chance to go back onto the streets and kill again,” White said. “To combat prosecutors who refuse to safeguard our families, I’ve introduced an amendment to the state constitution that would allow voters to recall members of the executive levels of state and local governments, including district attorneys who refuse to prosecute gun crimes.”
She stated she also introduced a bill mandating 10-year mandatory minimums for crimes where an illegal firearm was used. She added that this violence won’t stop until those who use illegal guns are fully prosecuted.
“To Larry Krasner, this is ‘social justice.’ But where’s the justice for the victims of gun violence?”
In my previous column, this young, crime-fighting state legislator expressed her negative view of Krasner and her support for Krasner’s opponent in the upcoming DA race, Chuck Peruto. In addition to electing Peruto, I asked the Philly lawmaker what her priorities were.
“Primarily, a couple of things that I’ve been focused on is to address the criminal element that is taking place in the city right now. I’ve been working on legislation over these past couple of years to increase the penalties for illegal firearm crimes and make sure there is a mandatory minimum in place for criminals who commit those crimes with illegal firearms.”
She said she passed legislation through an amendment on a judiciary chairman’s bill to allow the attorney general to have concurrent jurisdiction over the city of Philadelphia as it pertains to illegal firearm crimes.
“That is something I take pride in, except for the fact that the Democrats are not utilizing the tools that we have been providing to them to address the crimes,” White said. “That is disheartening, but we still are consistent and will persist in our quest to address the criminal element in the city and try to keep our neighborhoods safe. I think that probably is one of the things our communities want the most at this point in time, especially in Philadelphia.”
I asked White why she opposes Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city.
“A sanctuary city basically allows the DA to release people who are here illegally back out onto our streets even though they’ve committed a crime. It is just not acceptable,” White said. “When you commit a crime, you have to be held accountable, especially when you’ve come here in an illegal fashion.”
She asked why taxpayers, neighborhoods and families should be subjected to that type of crime when the perpetrator shouldn’t even be here to begin with. White also noted that as a sanctuary city, the mayor and the district attorney’s office refuse to coordinate arrests of illegals with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies.
I mentioned that police morale is low due to the cops’ belief that the city’s leadership and segments of the public do not support them. I asked her what can be done to increase support for the police.
“I think it is important that more public officials come out and support law enforcement, whether in the local community or in the press.”
I asked her if she thought the defund the police movement was a smart idea.
“Absolutely not. I think it is an insult to our law enforcement officers. I think it is also having an impact on the culture of urban communities and we have to continue to support our local law enforcement. They have a very difficult job, especially with Krasner in office.”
White said police officers are concerned that they will wind up losing their job or wind up in prison for doing their job well. This, she said, has a chilling effect on the safety of Philadelphia’s communities.
“I think that a basic principle of government, one of the things people come to expect from us, is to keep them safe.”
Paul Davis’ Crime Beat column appears here each week. He can be reached via pauldavisoncrime.com.