READING, Pa. – There's a call for safer streets in Reading, as Mayor Eddie Moran unveiled a three-part plan to curb gun violence during a news conference at city hall Tuesday afternoon.
The plan comes on the heels of a shooting in southwest Reading's Oakbrook neighborhood, where the police said a 14-year-old boy fatally shot a 16-year-old girl.
After that latest shooting, several Reading residents told the mayor they were scared and fed up and wanted change.
"Criminals and criminality are not welcome in Reading, to say the least," Moran said. "Families are torn apart, neighborhoods are damaged and communities suffer as a whole due to gun violence."
The first part of the plan involves a gun buyback program to eliminate some guns from the streets. The second part is setting up a community police program to encourage neighbors to be the "eyes and ears" of their neighborhoods. The third component is partnering with more organizations, including the Olivet Boys and Girls Club and Moms Demand Action.
With thousands of kids still out of their regular school routines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the police chief said there's a lack of structure and accountability that's often a dangerous mix.
"Since the start of the pandemic, there has been little to no enforcement or compliance checks on juveniles under supervision in their homes and communities," said RPD Chief Richard Tornielli. "The rate of recidivism of unsupervised juveniles as it relates to violent crime is staggering."
"There's no secret that when there's violence in the community and students are injured or killed, it impacts the school community," said Khalid Mumin, superintendent of the Reading School District.
Mumin said there's no timeframe yet for when students will not get back in the classroom, but he wants to offer any support he can to make this plan work.
There are also no details yet about when the gun buyback program will start.
The mayor said there will soon be more meetings to figure out the next steps for implementing the plan.