WHYY: Philly reps. urge Congress to pass bill to put $1B to help solve murders, care for victims

An announcement calling for more federal funding for law enforcement and to support crime victims on Wednesday in Philadelphia drew an uninvited guest: the mother of a murder victim, killed just feet from where the politicians were speaking.

Lendale Rogers, the mother of 15-year-old Simone-Monea Rogers, who was shot to death while playing basketball at the Jerome Brown Playground in North Philadelphia last August, said she fears for her own life.

“[On] Dec. 28, there were 30 shell casings. My home was a crime scene,” said Rogers. “My house was hit five times by an AK-47.” She said when she asked for relocation services, she was offered $2,000.

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans said what happened to Rogers and her family shows why there is a need for more federal funding to help solve shooting cases and make neighborhoods safer.

“We are trying to make a difference and it has to start somewhere,” said Evans. “I understand the pain she has expressed, and she’s right to have that pain. Nobody is trying to replace that pain. No one has had a daughter that has been shot.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw thinks more money would help fight crime, in a city that still uses typewriters in some cases to file homicide reports.

“The more we get out and speak to communities, they say we want to see you on every corner,” she said. “We don’t have the staffing to do that. It costs money.”

The Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods (VICTIM) Act would provide $1 billion in federal funding over a 10-year period to help local and state police raise their clearance rates, or the number of cases that actually are solved in a given year.

The money would also be used to help give victims and their families access to mental health resources and relocation costs, among other things.

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon recently was the victim of a carjacking in South Philadelphia. She also believes this funding is essential, calling this another epidemic.

“It’s going to require common sense gun safety laws, resources for law enforcement, support for mental health, and investments in education and employment opportunities for all Americans,” Scanlon said.

The congresswoman added she was “grateful to be anywhere after being carjacked at gunpoint,” believing she and her fellow members of congress from both sides of the aisle have a role to play in decreasing the amount of violence happening nationwide.

The legislation has been introduced, but Scanlon said people need to reach out to their respected members of congress and urge its passage.