There is no place I would rather live than in the Lehigh Valley. Our communities are blessed with beautiful scenery, fresh air, and friendly neighbors. They are also peaceful and generally safe. But last month's murder of a Kutztown University student in the Borough of Kutztown offers a tragic reminder that safety is not something we can take for granted, even in our beautiful valley.When a tragedy like this strikes, our minds race, wondering how we could have prevented it, and what we can do to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees, but I consider providing for public safety to be one of the most basic responsibilities of our government. To that end, I am working on legislation in Harrisburg that will help boost public safety, not only in the Lehigh Valley but across the state.
Few things do more to deter crime than police presence. That's why I'm supporting legislation that would provide $225 million in state funding to help local communities put as many as 10,000 new police officers on the streets across Pennsylvania by 2011.
I am also working on legislation specifically related to Kutztown Borough and other Pennsylvania communities impacted by high student populations at State System of Higher Education universities. The proposal calls on the state to provide funding to communities that either host or are in close proximity to the universities in order to offset increased demands placed on local law enforcement and to offset suppressed local Earned Income Tax collections.
In addition to these proposals, I will continue to work with Kutztown Borough and Kutztown University officials to do anything else that we can to ensure the safety of KU students and people living around the university.
Of course, public safety is not only about preventing crime, but also about being prepared to respond to emergencies. We all remember the Valentine's Day snow storm that resulted in many drivers being stranded on Interstate 78 for hours on end.
To help stop a similar crisis from happening again, I am supporting legislation that will require the development and implementation of a statewide traffic and weather alert system. The system would cover emergency and weather operations, incident management, traffic and roadway monitoring, traffic management and traveler information and distribution.
When emergencies happen, nothing is more important than the prompt distribution of information to everyone affected. This system will achieve that goal.
I'd like to know your thoughts and ideas on these and other public safety issues. Please log on to www.RepMantz.com to participate in my public safety survey, or contact my office at 7747 Claussville Road, Second Floor, in Orefield. The telephone number is 1-800-770-8114.