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Governor Rendell announces funding for 100 additional police officers in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced he is doubling the state's commitment to supporting the Philadelphia police force, providing for an additional 100 officers on the streets to fight crime.

"The budget I will unveil tomorrow in Harrisburg will help make Philadelphia safer," Governor Rendell said during a news conference in the office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. "This budget will provide funding for Philadelphia to hire 100 new police officers to patrol its streets and neighborhoods.

"This budget also will provide funding to pay for the 100 new police officers the city hired in 2006," the Governor said. "All told, this budget means funding for 200 police officers for Philadelphia."

Governor Rendell's statewide "Police on Patrol" initiative will double to $20 million per year for three years in state funding for police departments across Pennsylvania.

The number of homicides in Philadelphia fell slightly during the first year of Police on Patrol. He noted that the city averages more than a homicide a day - 406 in 2006 and 392 in 2007. Most of them, 85 percent, are committed with handguns, he said.

There also were 1,734 victims of gun violence in Philadelphia in 2007, down from 2,004 the year before.

"That is a staggering figure," Governor Rendell said. "Shootings affect families, communities, and drive up our health care costs."

Governor Rendell and Mayor Nutter were joined at today's event by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and State Police Commissioner Colonel Jeffrey Miller.

"Philadelphia already is taking the right steps to address the crime problem," Governor Rendell said. "Last week, Chief Ramsey unveiled an outstanding comprehensive crime fighting plan that will put more officers on the street where they are needed and that will emphasize community policing.

"There is a sense of hope and optimism among law enforcement and in our communities that the city is on the right track to making itself safer," the Governor said.

Noting that homicides by firearms rose 36 percent statewide from 2000 to 2006, Governor Rendell renewed his call for meaningful legislation to reduce straw purchasing and handgun violence.

"We need legislation to require the reporting of lost and stolen handguns, to allow cities like Philadelphia to enact their own firearms laws, and to limit the number of handguns that can be purchased to one per month," the Governor said. "Law enforcement tells us repeatedly that to contain gun violence we need to stop straw purchasers. These pieces of legislation are geared toward stopping them, while not infringing upon anyone's right to bear arms."

Governor Rendell also called for passage of legislation Speaker Dennis O'Brien introduced that would impose a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who shoots at a police officer.

"Tragically, six Philadelphia officers were shot in 2007, one of them fatally," Governor Rendell said. "Officer Charles Cassidy gave his life to defending the city and we honor his memory by fighting to make these streets safer."

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.

Chuck Ardo of the Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, +1-717-783-1116

Source: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

Web Site: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/

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