Chester Still Bucking Gun Violence Trend Thanks to Initiative

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer speaks at an Oct. 20 press conference about the progress made to curb gun violence in Chester
Image via Delaware County
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer speaks at an Oct. 20 press conference about the progress made to curb gun violence in Chester

The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods (CPSN) continues to have a positive impact in the city of Chester even as gun violence elsewhere makes the daily news.

At a press conference Thursday, officials gathered to give a progress report on the program.

“CPSN has continued to have an extraordinary impact on the level of gun violence in the city of Chester,” reported Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

He reported:

  • There has been a 59.7 percent decrease in non-fatal shootings since 2019;
  • There has been a 60 percent decrease in gun violence homicides since 2020; and
  • There has been a 55 percent decrease in gun violence incidents since 2019.

“The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods is a truly collaborative effort bringing public agencies, law enforcement, and community groups in our City together behind the shared goals of improving the public safety and quality of life for Chester residents,” said Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland. “I am appreciative of all of our partners who encourage and support this life-saving work.”

CPSN was launched in October of 2020 by the district attorney.

It uses a data model developed by Swarthmore College alum David Kennedy and utilizes a carrot-and-stick approach to curb gun violence.

Law enforcement approaches influential people involved in Chester crime and gives them an ultimatum–“If you let us, we will help you; if you make us, we will stop you.”

Help could mean getting a suspended license reinstated, a present for someone’s daughter when they are in prison, or an opportunity for an education or vocational program so the offender can improve their life.

Meet the partners

Making all this possible are individuals and agencies at the local, state, and federal levels.

Stollsteimer is working with Mayor Kirkland’s office as well as the Chester Police Department, and Delaware County Council. They are receiving support from PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro and U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon.

Scanlon and Shapiro helped obtain a $2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to expand the program.

The funds will allow more staff to be hired to work with program participants.

In 2020, a community resource specialist was hired and he continues to work on the streets of Chester every day connecting at-risk individuals with needed services.

The PCCD funds mean three more community resource specialists will be hired.

Recently, the Green Family Foundation has added its support to the CPSN program, contributing funds to pay an outreach worker.

“The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods is an example of the positive impact that a focused, intelligence-based enforcement approach can have on a community,” Shapiro said. “There is still more work to be done, and together, through programs like this, we will make our communities safer for all who live there”.

Scanlon noted that while many offer meaningless rhetoric about being tough on crime, “the DA’s office and the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods are doing the actual hard work of keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and addressing the root causes of violence by connecting individuals to opportunities such as meaningful employment, educational programs, and appropriate mental health care.”

Delaware County Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor commended everyone for putting forth the effort to address public safety concerns in the community.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates what can be achieved through genuine collaboration … ” she said.

Find out more by visiting the Delaware County website.

Here’s a news story from Fox 29 on the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods.

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