A group of Republican state lawmakers gathered in Lower Bucks County last week to discuss unveil legislation that addresses the rising and evolving crime in Pennsylvania.
State Sen. Frank Farry, of Langhorne Borough, and State Rep. K.C. Tomlinson, of Bensalem Township; State Rep. Joe Hogan, of Middletown Township; State Rep. Kristin Marcell, of Northampton Township; and State Rep. Shelby Labs, of Plumsteadville, joined local law enforcement outside the Northampton Police Department last week. They were joined by more than twenty police chiefs and other law enforcement leaders from across Bucks County.
LevittownNow.com, NewtownPANow.com, and NewHopeFreePress.com recently looked at crime statistics for Bucks County over the past five years. They review found violent crime has remained at a steady rate, while non-violent crime had ticked up.
In Warrington Township, thefts of catalytic converters have surged by 85 percent over the prior year and firearm offenses increased by 133 percent, according to Friel. He added that many of those apprehended were not local residents.
“As society evolves, so do the crimes happening in our communities,” Farry said. “We want to ensure that our law enforcement and prosecutors have the right tools to be able to properly charge these crimes and ultimately lead to the convictions of criminals who are causing chaos in our community, harming our residents and disrupting their daily lives.”
Hogan said some of the crime problems are connected to incidents in Philadelphia and what he said was lax prosecution in the city.
Tomlinson echoed Hogan’s comments and said: “Bucks County will not tolerate this type of criminal activity.” She noted 40 percent of people arrested in Bensalem Township are not from the municipality.
The proposed crime legislative package contains six bills. The premier bill, presented by both Farry and Tomlinson, mandates jail sentences for unlawful firearm possession: less than two years for the first offense, five years for the second, and 15 years for the third. A parallel bill is being proposed in the House by Tomlinson.
Senate-approved legislation by Farry aims to combat porch piracy by setting specific punishments for mail thefts. Penalties escalate with prior convictions. Tomlinson and Marcell have presented a similar bill.
Farry and Hogan’s proposal seeks sterner penalties for gun store burglaries, especially when the intent is firearm theft. Additional consequences are imposed if stolen weapons are used in subsequent crimes. The bill also proposes trying minors as adults for this offense and intensifying penalties for conspirators.
Acknowledging local issues with vehicle rallies, Farry, Hogan, and Tomlinson are proposing increased fines for street racing — from $250 to $2,000. A vehicle would be confiscated after a second offense, and provisions against “drifting” and stiff fines for event organizers have been included.
Legislation from Farry and Tomlinson addresses catalytic converter thefts, criminalizing possession of a detached converter without a commercial affiliation or valid reason.
The final bill, introduced by Farry, Labs, and Marcell, focuses on riots, aiming to hold participants accountable. Assaulting officers or aiding out-of-state individuals in riots could result in felony charges. The bill also targets state residents assisting or recruiting out-of-state individuals in riot instigation.