Safety is the most essential public good. Families and businesses cannot thrive without it.

Throughout the past few years, many localities across PA-05 have seen public safety steadily erode. In Philadelphia last year, we saw a record number of homicides and shootings — after setting records the previous year, and the year before that. We saw the same in Upper Darby, where murders have tripled since 2019. Other forms of violent crime, most notably carjackings, have soared. Since the start of 2022, a vehicle has been carjacked in Philadelphia every four to six hours. 

Violent crime has become a reality for far too many across the district. A major reason is Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner’s refusal to prosecute criminals. In 2021, Philadelphia experienced over 2,300 incidents of gun violence, yet over 61% of illegal firearms cases were dismissed by the DA’s office. So far this year, Philly police are on track to make 3,000 arrests for illegal gun possession, yet those caught are less likely to be charged — and those charged are less likely to be convicted — than ever before.

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As an environment of lawbreaking has grown in Philadelphia, it should come as no surprise that incidents of violence in the surrounding region have become common.

Amid drastic spikes in shootings and murders, it makes little sense for the number of cases withdrawn by the Philadelphia DA’s office to increase. Yet Larry Krasner and his ideological allies have openly admitted they “do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.”

When those who carry guns illegally or perpetrate violent acts go unpunished, they are emboldened to continue endangering innocents and destroying communities. It must change.

Certainty of prosecution and jail time is perhaps the single most effective deterrent of crime. It requires the courage to enforce laws and put away those who either practice or intend to practice violence.

My opponent, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, has been conspicuously silent about DA Krasner’s refusal to prosecute those who need to be held accountable.

She has been an unabashed advocate of controversial reform policies, such as ending cash bail, that most voters identify as drivers of violence. She has enthusiastically voted for federal legislation that makes it easier for localities to defund police departments. Like Krasner, Congresswoman Scanlon refuses to speak what most of us deem a fundamental truth – that it is impossible to reduce violence unless we prioritize taking those who commit violence, carry illegal guns, and exhibit a pattern of lawbreaking off the street.

Perhaps most importantly, given the levels of violence in a city within her district, Congresswoman Scanlon has failed to exhibit the vision that is her responsibility as someone who occupies one of our nation’s highest offices.

There are ways we can reduce shootings and enhance deterrence while also pursuing laudable goals like increasing transparency and the quality of justice. We just need leaders who are willing to put solutions first, not ideology – as Congresswoman Scanlon has not.

One such solution: mobile crime labs.

Everyone should not only live in a safe community but receive justice as well.

They will produce an immediate deterrent effect, tie offenders and weapons to crime scenes, increase the probability of conviction, and ultimately build trust and relationships between law enforcement and communities.

By bringing a forensics team to a crime scene, evidence is processed more quickly. Not only does this decrease backlogs that hinder prosecution, it enhances the accuracy of testing, given an optimal 48-hour window for processing evidence. Backlogged forensic systems favor offenders, not victims. Speedy, accurate processing equals more convictions and solved crimes.

Mobile crime labs act as visible deterrents, as well. Their presence in communities and ability to relocate to hotspots will make offenders think twice before acting. An increased probability of being linked to a crime scene is an additional deterrent effect.

Everyone should not only live in a safe community but receive justice as well. Countless families throughout PA-05 yearn to discover who took the life of a parent, sibling, or child. They shouldn’t be left waiting while a loved one’s killer goes free and evidence sits on a shelf. Mobile crime labs will not only deter violent crime and put lawbreakers behind bars; they will also give families well-deserved dignity.

The people of PA-05 deserve a Congressional representative who will speak out when other leaders fail to keep them safe. They deserve someone who will be solutions-oriented and put the community’s well-being before their personal ideology. They’ve had neither for far too long.

If elected to Congress, you won’t find me on the bench. When DAs like Larry Krasner refuse to enforce basic laws that have been the bedrock of public safety for years, I’ll speak out. I’ll coordinate with other levels of government to find ways to make our streets and families safer. I’ll secure funding for law enforcement and for innovative solutions like mobile crime labs that will connect offenders to crime scenes, put them behind bars, and give those who lost loved ones the justice they have been without.

I am determined to do my part to make PA-05 a safer place to live.

Dave Galluch is the Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 5th district.

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