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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

First Group of Inmates Released from State Prison Despite Bucks DA’s “Objections”

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The first group of state inmates who met criteria for the newly created early temporary release program have been released amid the COVID-19 health crisis, with one man approved from a case originating from Bucks County. 

Seven inmates in all were released for the program that Governor Tom Wolf announced last week through an executive order, state prison officials said. 

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said: “Despite some prisoners being released over our objections, we continue to work with the prison to strike a balance between public safety and the safety of those working in the jail, versus the jail’s ability to safely manage both the sick and healthy jail populations during this COVID pandemic.”

The temporary release program was called an “inappropriate overreachby Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai over the weekend, who said at the time,  “unlawfully releasing these prisoners sends the wrong message to law-abiding Pennsylvanians who are counting on government to restore normalcy in a safe and responsible manner.”

Weintraub said the District Attorneys office received  a list of 22 prisoners from corrections officials who cases were adjudicated in Bucks County that were being considered for release which a vast majority of the office “raised objections about.” Four of the 22 the office agreed with releasing preliminary with the group being within 90 days of their minimum sentence dates. 

None of the four have committed crimes of violence or against any victims, he said. 

While on temporary release,  state officials said, individuals will be monitored similarly to parolees and will be supervised by parole officers. The costs involved with monitoring the released inmates will be paid for by the state. 

Additionally, Weintraub said the inmate population at Bucks County Correctional Facility has been reduced by about 30 percent since the beginning of the crisis. 

With respect to the release of county inmates, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office has had considerable input throughout the process, though some inmates have been released or placed on house arrest despite our objections, Weintraub said.

“All inmates will undergo COVID-19 screening prior to release. Some individuals may be released to community corrections centers, while others may be released to home confinement. In either case, all will be confined to their location and will be supervised by parole agents” said a Department of Corrections spokesperson. 

An inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix  died due to COVID-19 with contributing factors of hypertensive cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis, state officials said last week. 

Bryan Fritz is the inmate released related to Bucks County.  He pleaded guilty to drug related offenses in July of last year.  He was  sentenced to one-year of prison which is also concurrent with other sentences originating out of Bucks too.  

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Two Women in Separate Incidents, Each with Probation Warrants Set off License Plate Reader Notifications Jailed

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Back to back arrests of two women with arrest warrants whose license plates set off notifications to police were jailed in separate incidents earlier this week.

According to police, on July 15  just before 7 pm., an officer on patrol on the  200 block S. Main street was notified of a hit via the automatic license plate reader  on a vehicle with a registration suspended for insurance cancellation. The officer then observed the same vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on the subject vehicle. Upon confirming that the operator of the vehicle had an active arrest warrant issued by Bucks County Adult Probation, the officer arrested the 42-year-old woman from Yardley on the warrant.  The woman was processed and remanded to Bucks County Prison. The vehicle was released to a family member.  Additional motor vehicle violations may be filed.

On July 16, at approximately 8:18 pm, Yardley Borough Police were on patrol  and received a notification of a hit via the automatic license plate reader on a vehicle with an expired/suspended registration. The officer observed the subject vehicle and utilizing a timing device noted that the subject vehicle was speeding.  The officer conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle on the 200 block of South Main Street. The driver of the vehicle was determined to be operating the vehicle without a valid license, registration, or insurance, said police.

Upon confirming that the operator of the vehicle had an active arrest warrant issued by Bucks County Adult Probation, the officer arrested a 23-year-old woman from King of Prussia on the warrant.  The woman was processed and remanded to Bucks County Prison. The vehicle was impounded.  Additional motor vehicle violations may be filed. The matter is pending court, police said. 

Both matters are pending court dates.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

More than 80 Police Departments across Southeast Pennsylvania to Target Aggressive Drivers during Statewide Mobilization

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that more than 80 municipal police departments from Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties will join the Pennsylvania State Police in a coordinated aggressive driving enforcement wave. This collective effort, part of a statewide mobilization running through August 18, is aimed at reducing the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our area roadways, ensuring your safety on the road.

The enforcement wave will target heavy truck violations, pedestrian safety, red light running, and tailgating. Motorists demonstrating unsafe behaviors, such as driving too fast for conditions or other aggressive actions, will also be cited.

Law enforcement will utilize strategies such as traffic enforcement zones, saturation patrols, speed enforcement details, corridor enforcement, work zone enforcement, and multi-jurisdictional patrol to identify and cite aggressive drivers.
The enforcement is part of Pennsylvania’s Highway Safety Program and is funded by part of PennDOT’s investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you encounter an aggressive driver, PennDOT offers these tips:

  • Get out of their way and don’t challenge them.
  • Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact, and ignore rude gestures.
  • Don’t block the passing lane if you drive slower than most traffic.
  • Do not attempt to follow or pursue the vehicle. You or a passenger may call the police. But, if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location.
  • >

    According to 2023 PennDOT crash data, there were 1,363 aggressive driving crashes, resulting in 39 fatalities and 104 suspected serious injuries in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Aggressive driving crashes involve at least two aggressive driving factors in the same crash. Factors include, but are not limited to, running stop signs or red lights, tailgating, careless turning or passing, and driving too fast for conditions.

    The goal of targeted enforcement is to reduce the number of aggressive driving-related crashes, injuries, and deaths on roadways throughout the state. Any aggressive driver stopped by police will receive a ticket.

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Local Lawmakers Want to Expand DNA Sampling in Criminal Cases

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Last week a group of Bucks County Republican lawmakers with local authorities held a press conference to discuss changes they said need to be put in place regarding the collection of DNA from potential criminals.

State Senator Frank Farry state Rep. K.C. Tomlinson, Rep. Joe Hogan, Rep. Kristin Marcell, Rep Labs, joined First Assistant District Attorney Ed Louka, Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran, Chief of Lower Southampton Police Department Ted Krimmel, and local law enforcement officials at Comic Collection, in Feasterville to discuss the importance of DNA technology in Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System.

Specifically legislation the legislators  are working on would expand the number of DNA samples in the criminal justice system by requiring post-arrest testing of anyone charged with a felony or certain misdemeanors.  This sample-taking would be much like the established process of taking an arrestee’s fingerprints.  Nineteen states currently collect post-arrest DNA samples.

The press conference highlighted the impressive work by the Lower Southampton Police Department in an investigation of a violent robbery at Comic Collection in September 2022, where a DNA match led to the charging of two Michigan men 18 months after the crime.

It will also in mind the importance of conviction integrity served by advanced use of DNA identification. A sample can prove the innocence of someone else who has been incorrectly accused or convicted and imprisoned for a crime when the DNA ends up matching someone.

SB988, and its companion bill HB2030, would also expand the collection of DNA samples for those offenders convicted of criminal homicide, which under Pennsylvania law are their own classification of crime and technically not classified as felonies. This legislation would close that loophole and require collection of DNA samples from these offenders to solve other cold case murders and crimes.

 

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