Perzel calls again for more police

He will reintroduce legislation in Harrisburg to fund 10,000 new officers throughout Pennsylvania.

Citing Philadelphia's rising homicide numbers and concerns about crime and violence statewide, State Rep. John Perzel announced yesterday he would reintroduce legislation that would add 10,000 police throughout the state, including 1,345 in the city.

Joined by State Reps. George Kenney and John Taylor, both Philadelphia Republicans, Perzel told reporters at his office in Northeast Philadelphia, "We believe the city of Philadelphia needs more police to combat the rising tide of crime and violence that is taking over so many of our neighborhoods."

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State Rep. John Perzel

Perzel, also a Philadelphia Republican, said the plan would cost about $225 million in state funds.

He noted that all the candidates in the mayoral race have called for increasing the number of police in Philadelphia. There are currently 6,600 Philadelphia police officers.

"Everybody is singing from the same hymnal," Perzel said.

Perzel said the legislation was introduced in the fall. He said it was approved in the House of Representatives through the Committee of the Whole on Crime but the Senate failed to act on it.

Asked whether he thought the measure would get the backing it needs in the Senate this time, Perzel said, "I don't have a firm commitment . . . but I am optimistic that we can get their support."

He added that in Philadelphia there is increased urgency to add more police.

"In the six months since we first introduced this bill last fall, homicides in the city have increased a staggering 26 percent," Perzel said.

Under the plan, each county would be eligible to apply for a preset share of $225 million in state funding to hire, recruit or maintain a sufficient number of officers. The counties would have to match 30 percent of the state funding.

Money to hire new officers would be committed through the end of each new officer's career. The county can then reapply to hire a replacement.

The program would be administered through the state Attorney General's Office.

When the legislation was introduced, Gov. Rendell said the measure was too expensive.

"I have always had a policy of not spending money that we don't have," Rendell said then. "We don't have that money."

Yesterday a spokesman for Rendell said the governor thought the legislation remained too costly.

"The governor will look at the legislation if it reaches his desk, but he has the same concerns about funding that he had previously," spokesman Chuck Ardo said. "The governor would love to put more police on the streets throughout the commonwealth, but he has to live within the constraints of the budget."

Kenney said he expected the measure would receive broad support in Philadelphia.

"I don't think there is a section of the city where we could ask if there is a need for more police and they would say, 'No,' " Kenney said.


Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.