Are witnesses protected enough in Philly? Council member aims to keep them safer

Councilmember Mark Squilla pushes for expanded witness and victim protections

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia City Council member is now collaborating with other council members to help protect witnesses after cooperating with authorities.

To Councilmember Mark Squilla, it's a matter of safety.

"We’ve had cases throughout the city where people who’ve volunteered to give information and then are fearful for their lives," he said.

Squilla said he and his fellow council members are working to follow through with a promise.

"We as elected officials believe we aren’t doing enough to protect those people," he said.

"We’re asking them to be a witness, but are we holding up our end of the bargain?"

This comes after several witnesses said they were scared for their lives, along with community activist Sonja Bringham who said her home was firebombed by those looking to keep her quiet.

"We just want a clean community. Clean and safe, and we’re not going to stop," she said.

Squilla said the city needs to invest more in its victims and witnesses services program, and if necessary, relocate those in that program.

"If we don't do that, it's going to be few and far between where we have people willing to testify," he admitted.

"We need to do a better job of protecting them."

Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department hopes to provide safety resources and relocation opportunities to those facing the terror of retaliation.

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