State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) and state Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) Friday announced that they have successfully secured $2.5 million in state funding for the Attorney General's mobile street crime unit.
The funding, included in the $28.375 billion 2013-14 state budget, will allow the office of Attorney General to implement a mobile street crime unit that will disrupt and dismantle criminal gangs in Pennsylvania.
"This mobile street crime unit is important to send a message to gangs, criminals, and drug dealers not here, not on our watch and not in Pennsylvania," Yudichak said. "This specialized unit will give the tools to law enforcement and to the Attorney General's office to work with local police departments to effectively drive gangs out of our schools and out of our neighborhoods."
The AG Mobile Street Crime Strike Force which was a top priority for Attorney General Kathleen Kane will be an elite unit of highly trained, highly skilled law enforcement agents that will team up with the FBI, the state police and local police departments to end criminal gang operations across Pennsylvania.
"The gangs have been such a big issue in Northeastern Pennsylvania and in the city of Hazleton, this mobile street crime unit will allow the Attorney General to come in and augment our police protection," Toohil added. "We really need the boots on the ground, and we really need them in Hazleton. We're very excited that the program is coming to help the city of Hazleton."
Hazleton Chief of Police Frank DeAndrea said that he is thrilled that the legislators were able to fund the mobile street crime unit which will make a big difference in the fight against gangs.
"I am so grateful and gracious to three people right now Sen. Yudichak, Tarah Toohil, and Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who came up with a phenomenal out of the box idea to attack a serious law enforcement issue across the Commonwealth," DeAndrea said. "Sen. Yudichak and Rep. Toohil recognized how important this was and worked so hard to successfully get this through. I'm positive this is going to make a huge difference to the residents of Pennsylvania one town at a time and I look forward to being a Chief in the General's army."
Yudichak noted that there was strong bipartisan support for the mobile street crime unit. He also thanked Appropriations Committee chairs Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Sen. Vince Hughes (D-Philadelphia) for making public safety a priority during budget negotiations.
Last year with the help of Sen. Dominic Pileggi and Sen. John Rafferty, Yudichak and Toohil were able to spearhead the effort pass Pennsylvania's first anti-gang law.