By Bonnie Eisenfeld
Philadelphia received two Gun Violence Investigation and Prosecution Grants federally funded by the American Rescue Plan.
The District Attorney’s Office in collaboration with the Police Department and Managing Director’s Office will receive $20 million to support citywide gun violence investigation and prosecution initiatives. GVIP funding will be used to support the Digital Forensics Lab’s expansion which will advance gun violence investigation and prosecution in Philadelphia by leveraging advanced technology with adequate staffing to improve multi-agency coordination by more effectively sharing intelligence and evidence, leading to increased arrests and convictions of the few individuals driving the majority of crime involving firearms. These investigative and prosecutorial technology upgrades will also assist law enforcement efforts to prevent and intervene before future incidents occur while helping further collect evidence for straw purchases cases and trace the origin of firearms found in Philadelphia.
Funding will be used to expand digital surveillance capabilities, including video analytics and license plate reader technology; camera installation and maintenance; implement investigator and prosecutor case management system; support technology upgrades to the crime scene kits used by investigators; support the salary, benefits, and training of new full-time staff to support and utilize technology upgrades for investigation and prosecution of gun violence in Philadelphia, and related office supplies for funded staff.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will receive $4,993,639 to install ZeroEyes weapon detection technology on its security cameras and increase police overtime to reduce gun violence and aid prosecution of firearms offenses. The ZeroEyes system quickly identifies whether guns are visible in camera footage, and after verification by trained personnel, alerts emergency responders about their location. These funds will be used to install the ZeroEyes software on security cameras, support the annual DeepZero license subscription for a two-year pilot project, and increase Transit Police overtime in order to partner with the City of Philadelphia and local law enforcement agencies to target gun violence in the transit network.
In addition, 65 Philadelphia nonprofit organizations and institutions received money for gun violence prevention through the Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, run through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). This program was funded by $30 million in State funds in 2022/23 and $75 million in Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) State Fiscal Recovery dollars for a total of $105 million.