$50 Million in State Gun Crime Grants Opening Soon in PA Counties

Pennsylvania police and prosecutors will have a $50 million pot from a new grant program to prosecute gun violence starting next month.

Part of the 2022-2023 state budget and funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the application window for the Gun Violence Research and Prosecution Grant Program is expected to open on September 1.

Bucks County Deputy District Attorney David Keightley Jr. told a news conference last week with area lawmakers and gun safety advocates that the county will apply for “as much as we can” to combat gun violence “with a lot more strength and vigor. forward.”

“We don’t want to be satisfied with working backwards, we want to work forwards. We want to be able to use a lot of that money to understand purchasing trends, suspicious trends among people who continue to buy guns and their guns continue to wind up on the streets,” Keightly said.

While Keightly did not say how much specifically the county would apply for, he said the funding awarded would go toward “technology and manpower” for gun crimes.

Administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the grant is a “historic” amount of funding for “a complex and arduous project,” said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, of Lower Makefield.

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“Finding a solution to the gun violence crisis plaguing our communities is a complex and arduous task. However, it is something we are not giving up on. This historic, new investment of $50 million will give district attorneys additional new resources to better investigate gun crimes and prosecute those who make our communities less safe,” said Santarsiero, who was credited by other lawmakers as driving power behind grants.

The $50 million in grants is part of a larger law enforcement funding package of at least $280 million earmarked from federal dollars.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-7, of Philadelphia, said the state budget also included $105 million in grants for gun violence prevention programs and another $135 million in additional grants for police departments.

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“This is the first time state dollars have come in at this level to help local prosecutors do the job they need to do to get bad guys off the streets and get these guns off the streets. Prevention, protection and prosecution,” Hughes said.

Bucks County Volunteer Ceasefire Authority Chief Aileen Bochanski said the $105 million in prevention grants could be used in many ways to reduce gun violence, including expanding co-response programs like the one started in Bensalem Bucks County in 2020.

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Co-response programs pair social workers with police on calls where mental or behavioral health issues may be the underlying issue.

Last year, the county’s pilot program in Bensalem expanded to Middletown and Falls with the help of a $424,000 state grant.

More information about the new gun violence grants can be found through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency website at www.pccd.pa.gov.

This article originally appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times: Gun violence raises $50 million for PA prosecutors

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