U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to help law enforcement combat a recent wave of violent crime in Reading.
Pennsylvania's senior senator is asking the department to hold a summit in the city, with experts on combating violent crime sharing their best practices and devising a plan to help local law enforcement and government leaders crack down on crime.
"Recent incidents of violent crime, coupled with long term trends, are a concern for communities across the greater Reading area, so it's time for the Department of Justice to step up and provide assistance to protect our communities," said Casey.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Casey cited recent incidents of homicides and assaults that have plagued the community. Reading has already recorded 12 homicides through the first seven months of 2012, compared to just 13 in all of 2011, police said.
"Despite some successes in the past, a number of crimes this year continue to alarm area citizens and point to yet another deeply concerning trend," Casey said. "I look forward to working with the department to develop creative solutions and identify best practices to address this ongoing issue."
Casey also cited in his letter to Holder a report last year by the National Drug Intelligence Center that found Reading to be emerging as one of the most prominent cocaine markets in the eastern United States.
Mayor Vaughn Spencer, D-Reading, and police Chief Bill Heim held a news conference on July 18, announcing that the city was in the process of arranging a crime summit. Spencer said he wants to meet with state and federal officials to see what additional resources the city can get to fight crime.