Papenfuse asks young people to step up and help make neighborhoods safer

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Mayor Eric Papenfuse talked at the Hispanic Community Center on Monday night about how violent crime hit close to home.

Two men, who worked at Papenfuse’s Midtown bookstore, are wanted for murder.

Papenfuse says he was trying to give 26-year-old Kurt Tasker and 26-year-old Vernon King, Junior a chance to make a living after leaving prison. “We all have to work as a community to stop this cycle,” said Papenfuse, “It will require employers trying to give people a second chance.”

Wayne Thompson runs a boxing gym in Allison Hill for kids who live in the area. He says that there is an ongoing problem, that could turn deadly. “The kids are working out, and you can hear gunshots,” said Thompson, “There were a couple times that we called the police, and they never came.”

Police Captain Gabe Olivera says the department can’t respond as quickly as they did in the past because they need more police officers. “We have to prioritize the calls,” said Olivera, “If we have a call for shots fired, and we have another call and someone is injured, that will be our priority.”

The mayor asked young people in the audience to consider a career with the police department. Some said they wished they had learned more in school about the work that police officers do on a daily basis. 18-year-old Antonio Cruz says that kids, and even some young adults, are influenced by peer pressure. “There are a lot of people who listen to words around them and a lot of them can’t be leaders,” said Cruz, “They have to be followers, and that is what hurts them.”

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