The Philadelphia Tribune: Lawmakers join forces for plan to get shooters off of Philly’s streets

Standing about 25 feet away from the basketball court where her daughter Simone-Monea Rogers was fatally shot last August, Lendale Rogers stood listening to U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans on Wednesday afternoon.

Evans was joined by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Brendan Boyle and Mary Gay Scanlon to advocate for the Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods (VICTIM) Act.

The bipartisan group stood in front of the news media at Jerome Brown Playground to speak in support of the $1 billion legislation that would provide $100 million in funding over the next 10 years. The Act would help local and state police raise their clearance rates for fatal and nonfatal shooting cases across the nation.

“This is the site of a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old last August that is unresolved,” Evans said. “She died less than 24 hours later just because someone fired into a crowd. Our police need more help to solve these kinds of cases. We need to get these shooters off the streets. This is a national problem. About half of the gun murders in the United States go unsolved.”

According to Evans, the VICTIM Act, which he co-sponsored, was introduced by former Orlando Police Commissioner and current U.S. Rep. Val Demings. Not only would it aid in increasing the clearance rate in unsolved shootings locally and nationally, it would also help to hire and deploy more officers to patrol the streets.

Outlaw said that it is no secret that law enforcement agencies are suffering from depleted staffing as funding issues have halted how many police are hired.

“Here at the PPD (Philadelphia Police Department), we are triaging these harsh realities in every way that we can. As I’ve stated previously, we want to increase our visibility in a renewed effort to fight violent crime in 2022,” Outlaw said. “We’ve taken officers out of specialized units and put them back on patrol to have more boots on the ground. We continue to use data and intelligence to guide our officer deployments, putting more officers in areas where we know the problems are.”

Outlaw also discussed the plans to roll out a nonfatal shooting unit to centralize detectives investigating nonfatal shootings across Philadelphia.

“The VICTIM Act could give law enforcement a better opportunity to address the going growing gun violence that we’re seeing here in our beautiful city and many cities across the nation,” Outlaw said. “While sadly we know that we cannot stop all crimes from occurring, what additional funding through the VICTIM Act would do for our community members and our victims is to ensure that their voices are heard, the resources that they need are received, and that they find comfort and closure that they feel safer in their neighborhoods and that the criminal justice system does their job in protecting the innocent while holding those responsible for inflicting terror in our communities.”

Outlaw also added that the funding would help DNA investigatory capabilities.

Scanlon, who was carjacked in December, said that there needs to be an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing the crime and gun violence epidemic.

“It’s going to require common-sense gun safety laws, resources for law enforcement support for mental health, and investments in education and employment opportunities for all Americans,” Scanlon said. “We stand here today as a bipartisan group of legislators representing Philadelphia and its suburbs because we all believe that we all have a role to play in solving this crisis.”

According to Scanlon, the House Judiciary Committee met Wednesday to figure out how to move forward on the legislation and have a hearing about the bill. She said that there is no one solution as Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also continue to allocate funding and resources to prevent gun violence. But she said the VICTIM Act — if passed — will help.