HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A look at the headlines from across the country and across the state would lead you to the conclusion that violent crime and gun violence is on the rise. On Wednesday, the state took what it hopes is a concrete step toward curbing it.
Two York County children shot and killed by their father. A 15-year-old high school student shoots and kills classmates. Just two of the horrific recent headlines. “There is an increase in gun violence. It is not just a commonwealth problem or a state problem but it’s a national problem,” Governor Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jalila Parker said.
Blood is running in the streets of Pa.’s biggest cities. Philly with more than 500 homicides this year. Pittsburgh has topped 100. But if you thank that’s their problem, Parker has this answer. “That’s York’s problems, that’s Clearfield County’s problem, that’s Centra County’s problem. Gun violence is not limited to our urban areas,” Parker said.
Parker focuses on public safety for the Wolf Administration, which announced $15 million in grants to programs across the state promising to disrupt the violence. From a student ambassador program in Bucks County to mentoring women with firearm convictions in Philly. “What is best for Philadelphia is not best for York County. What is best for Erie is not gonna be best for Scranton. So that is why we wanted to fun the grassroots organizations,” Parker said. “They know what teens might be at risk. They know where the hotspots are.”
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Some of the Midstate initiatives include:
- City of Harrisburg – $500,000 to continue execution of the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy via a collaborative partnership between the Dauphin County Human Services Department, the City of Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Bureau of Police.
- H.I.S. Ministry – $50,000 to support additional developmental training to ex-offenders and men in the Harrisburg and Dauphin County area who have been convicted of violent crimes.
- Bench Mark Program – $143,968 to support the expansion of a wrap-around service model with the addition of a trained case manager who will specialize in supporting youth involved in gun violence and group violence.
Parker says grants are just one part of the solution. She’d love what she calls common-sense gun legislation but the GOP-run legislature is having none of that. She also struggles with a cause of the spike in violence. Mental health? Too many guns? “People can point to COVID being the issue. We can point to poverty. We can point to lack of educational resources. We can point to drugs,” Parker said.
Lots of causes, lots of body bags, and a sense that even with $15 million in grants is not nearly enough.
To view the full list of organizations and causes being funded, you can click the link here.