Senate Republicans’ Statewide Hearing Series on Combatting Rising Crime Continues in Lancaster County with a Focus on Human Trafficking

LANDISVILLE, PA – The Senate Majority Policy Committee today held the second in a series of hearings on crime and public safety, gathering at the East Hempfield Township Building in Lancaster County to get input from local police chiefs, prosecutors, human trafficking victim advocates, and key community groups.  

Pennsylvania has the highest violent crime rate of any state in the Northeast, according to FBI data. Between 2019 and 2020, no other state reported a greater year-over-year increase in violence. Driven by spikes in aggravated assault and homicide, Pennsylvania’s violent crime rate climbed 27.1% from 2019 to 2020.

“Across the Commonwealth, Pennsylvanians are experiencing increased crime in their communities and it’s having an effect on local economies,” said Sen. Scavello (R-40) who chairs the committee. “We learned in our first hearing, Pennsylvania has strong laws on the books to fight crime, however communities that embrace soft on crime approaches or ignore the rule of law are essentially disassembling our criminal justice system resulting in increased costs for our communities both economically and socially.”

“Many Lancaster County residents have expressed to me that they are deeply concerned about the rise of violent crime in their communities, and the testimony today from law enforcement officials across the county confirms that this trend is very real and should be taken seriously,” said Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36). “As elected officials, we have a duty to our constituents to respond to these concerns by advancing policies that support and empower law enforcement to do their jobs and ensure residents feel safe in their own communities.”

Chief David Steffen of the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department told the committee that the national media’s consistent coverage of emotional, high-profile, and statistically rare cases of officer-involved shootings portrayed as the norm has created a foundation of mistrust in law enforcement.

Chief Jack Brommer of the Columbia Borough Police Department told the committee that recruiting new officers to the force has become increasingly difficult, particularly as anti-police rhetoric rises.

Heather Adams, Lancaster County District Attorney, explained to the committee why Lancaster County is a hotspot for human trafficking and how her office has formed the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force to address this alarming trend.

Janelle Esbenshade, Interim Executive Director of NorthStar Initiative, a group that supports women who are survivors of domestic sex trafficking, told the committee how communities impacted by human trafficking typically see a rise in other crimes as well.

A top priority for Senate Republicans is to ensure Pennsylvanians feel safe in the towns, cities, and communities they call home. These hearings will help legislators better understand the trends in crime from law enforcement and key stakeholders, and better align the Commonwealth’s economic goals with community objectives throughout the state.

The date and location of the committee’s next hearing on crime and public safety will be announced in the near future.

Senate Republicans hear testimony from Lancaster County police chiefs about the rise in crime and what legislators can do to support law enforcement and keep Pennsylvania communities safe.

CONTACTS:

Erica Clayton Wright (Senator Kim Ward) ewright@pasen.gov
Christine Zubeck (Senator Scavello) czubeck@pasen.gov
Stephanie Applegate (Senator Aument) sapplegate@pasen.gov

Public hearing to receive input from the law enforcement community and stakeholders on increased crime and public safety

Senate Majority Policy Committee

Monday, May 2, 2022 | 10 a.m.

East Hempfield Township Building, Landisville, Lancaster County


Agenda

Public hearing to receive input from the law enforcement community and stakeholders on increased crime and public safety

Schedule

Introduction

Panel 1:

Chief David Steffen, Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department

President of the PA Chiefs of Police Association

Chief Jack Brommer, Columbia Borough Police Department

President of the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association

Chief Lisa A. Layden, West Hempfield Township Police Department

Tpr. Kelly MacIntyre, Pennsylvania State Police, Community Affairs Officer 

Q and A 

Panel 2:

Heather Adams, Lancaster County District Attorney

Detective Christopher Jones, East Lampeter Township Police Department

Lancaster County District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force

Christopher Dreisbach, CEO, Blueprints for Addiction and Recovery, and

Co-Founder of SecondChance PA

Benjamin McCoy, Executive Vice President at Blueprints, and Co-Founder of SecondChance PA

Janelle Esbenshade, NorthStar Initiative, Interim Exec. Dir. 

Q and A 

Closing Remarks

Senate Republicans Hold First of Series of Hearings on Combatting Rising Crime

EBENSBURG, PA – With National Crime Victims’ Rights Week as the backdrop, the Senate Majority Policy Committee today kicked off a series of hearings on crime and public safety, gathering at the Cambria County Courthouse to get input from police, prosecutors, judges, and key community groups. 

Pennsylvania has the highest violent crime rate of any state in the Northeast, according to FBI data. Between 2019 and 2020, no other state reported a greater year-over-year increase in violence. Driven by spikes in aggravated assault and homicide, Pennsylvania’s violent crime rate climbed 27.1% from 2019 to 2020.

“The Senate Majority Policy Committee will hold several public hearings on crime and public safety across the Commonwealth as data shows that crime has been on the rise in Pennsylvania, and we want to better understand why,” said Sen. Mario Scavello (R-40) who chairs the committee.

“I spent many years walking the halls of this courthouse as an Assistant District Attorney, and I’m deeply concerned about the sharp rise in crime, particularly violent crime, in our region and across Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-35), who hosted the hearing. “We are here to identify what is needed to turn the tide and what we can do to help police ensure the safety of citizens.”

Cambria County District Attorney Gregory Neugebauer told the committee it’s gotten more difficult for communities to attract and keep police officers.

Richland Township Police Chief Michael Burgan said that the influx of heroin and fentanyl are fueling a rise in ancillary offenses, such as property crimes, robbery and retail theft.

Cambria County President Judge Norman Krumenacker said DUI crimes are a major problem and was made more challenging by a 2021 state Supreme Court ruling on DUI sentencing.

Maribeth Schaffer, Cambria County Chief Public Defender focused on the need for mental health services.

A top priority for Senate Republicans is to ensure Pennsylvanians feel safe in the towns, cities and communities they call home. These hearings will help legislators better understand the trends in crime from law enforcement and key stakeholders, and better match the Commonwealth’s economic goals with community objectives throughout Pennsylvania.

The committee’s next hearing on crime and public safety will be held in Lancaster County in early May.

Video of today’s hearing can be viewed here.

 

CONTACTS:

Erica Clayton Wright (Senator Kim Ward) ewright@pasen.gov
Christine Zubeck (Senator Scavello) czubeck@pasen.gov
Gwenn Dando (Senator Langerholc) gdando@pasen.gov

** MEDIA ADVISORY** Senate Majority Policy Chair Announces Cambria County Crime and Public Safety Hearing

Watch Live

(HARRISBURG) – Senate Majority Policy Chair Mario Scavello (R-40) announced the Majority Policy Committee will hold a crime and public safety hearing on Monday, April 25, 2022, at Cambria County Courthouse in Courtroom 1 at 1:30 p.m.

The goal of this hearing is to better understand what is driving the increase in crime in local communities across the Commonwealth, as well as discuss tools to assist the law enforcement community and other stakeholders.

 

WHO:            Senate Majority Policy Committee

WHAT:          Crime and Public Safety Hearing

WHEN:          1:30 p.m.

WHERE:       Cambria County Courthouse
                         Courtroom 1
                         200 South Center St.
                         Ebensburg, Pa.

                        Livestream
                       
Senate Republican Caucus website
                        Senate Republican Caucus Facebook page
                        Senate Majority Policy Committee

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Erica Clayton Wright
ewright@pasen.gov
412-334-4856

Public hearing to receive input from the law enforcement community and stakeholders on increased crime and public safety

Senate Majority Policy Committee

Monday, April 25, 2022 | 1:30 p.m.

Cambria County Courthouse, Ebensburg


Agenda

Public hearing to receive input from the law enforcement community and stakeholders on increased crime and public safety

Schedule

Introduction
Panel 1:
Chief Michael Burgan, Richland Township Chief of Police – Testimony
Chief Richard Pritchard, City of Johnstown Chief of Police
Q and A
Panel 2:
The Honorable Norman A. Krumenacker III, Cambria County President Judge
The Honorable Kevin Price, Magisterial District Judge 47-1-03
Gregory J. Neugebauer, Cambria County District Attorney – Testimony
Maribeth Schaffer, Chief Public Defender Cambria County
Q and A
Closing Remarks