Mastriano Offers ‘Tough on Crime’ Agenda in Pennsylvania Governor’s Race

Mastriano Offers ‘Tough on Crime’ Agenda in Pennsylvania Governor’s Race
Doug Mastriano at a campaign rally in Manheim, Pa., on Oct. 29, 2022. (William Huang/The Epoch Times)
Beth Brelje

With 562 murders, 2021 was a record year for Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. So far in 2022, the city has seen 441 murders. As of Oct. 30, the Philadelphia Police Department reported 12,923 violent crimes in 2022, including 154 violent assaults in the previous seven days.

Philadelphia crime has climbed each year since 2013, when the city had 246 murders. Crimes spills out of the city into surrounding counties.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano focused on crime during a recent campaign stop in Lancaster County. While traveling the state, Mastriano says he has been hearing a lot of concerns about the economy, but in Southeast Pennsylvania, the conversation turns to crime.

“The Attorney General has presided as a senior law enforcement official for six years over law and order in the state, and he’s failed us abysmally. He’s completely dropped the ball,” Mastriano said, speaking of his opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro.

Mastriano has called for a tougher stance on crime.

Going After Fentanyl Dealers

As a state senator, Mastriano introduced Tyler’s Law, targeting drug dealers who peddle fentanyl resulting in a fatal overdose. The crime would result in a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence upon conviction. It would not apply to drug users who share drugs with friends or family members or those who seek medical help for individuals who overdose.

The proposed law is in remembrance of Tyler Shanafelter, who was 18 when he fatally overdosed after buying what he thought was Percocet, without realizing the pills were laced with fentanyl.

“His mom was heartbroken that in Pennsylvania, the dealer was on the street just a few months later,” Mastriano said during the Saturday event in Lancaster County. “We’re also looking at introducing legislation that would offer the death penalty for those that deal in drugs and kill people.”

Supporting Police

Restoring police support is another part of Mastriano’s plan. He recalled that in June 2020, in the middle of strict social restrictions during the COVID-19 lockdown, Gov. Tom Wolf defied his own lockdown orders to march in a Black Lives Matter rally, where he stood near a sign calling to defund the police.

“When you stand with people that stand against the police, it sends a message across the state that we don’t have their backs,” Mastriano said. “On Day One, it’s more than symbolic. I want police to know that Mastriano is a law and order governor.”

Mastriano promised to establish a scholarship program to support the training and hiring of more police officers. He noted that one of his Senate bills passed this year, authorizing the hiring of 200 more state police.

“We’re going to invest in innovative technology and equipment to protect police officers. We will protect Act 111,” he said, referring to a collective bargaining package.

“I know within the Republican ranks there’s some debate about that. But Act 111 defends police collective bargaining and it’s become the last line of defense between them and social justice warriors that are going after them for split second decisions they make in the field.”

Mastriano says his administration will reject the “defund the police” movement and provide resources to support the mental health of police officers.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at a press conference in Harrisburg, Pa., on Aug. 3, 2021. (Courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at a press conference in Harrisburg, Pa., on Aug. 3, 2021. (Courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services)

“A lot of times they find themselves in a combat-like environment like we face in the military. And then we have to take care of our own,” Mastriano said. “We have to keep violent criminals behind bars. Under this current administration, that is part of the problem. Criminals have to be held accountable and do their time when they do the crime.”

Early release is part of the problem in Philadelphia, Mastriano said.

“We'll work with the General Assembly to strengthen the penalties for repeat offenders, and especially for violent criminals. We will support funding for additional prosecutors in high crime areas,” Mastriano said. “I will note some years ago Josh Shapiro was given this authority by the General Assembly and he has yet to use it.”

Shapiro’s work in Pennsylvania has earned him a national reputation as a “rising progressive leader and bipartisan consensus builder,” according to his web page at the National Association of Attorneys General.

“As Attorney General, Josh Shapiro has arrested over 8,000 drug dealers, seized 3.2 million doses of heroin and 5.7 million doses of fentanyl, broken up interstate gun trafficking rings, and led the fight to close the ghost gun loophole—he has a proven record of holding criminals accountable, and that’s why police officers and local law enforcement leaders across the Commonwealth are supporting his campaign,” Will Simons, Shapiro campaign spokesman, told The Epoch Times.

Philadelphia Parents Deserve Better

Mastriano defined other specifics of his plan to curb crime, including expanding programs that protect witnesses from retaliation and intimidation and opposing any legislation that seeks to end cash bail for criminals.

He would also negotiate with the Legislature to require murder charges and longer sentences for drug dealers who sell drugs linked to overdose deaths, and if that is not possible, longer sentences than the current guidelines allow.

“We’re going after cleaning up Pennsylvania’s most dangerous neighborhoods, whether that’s in Philly, or Pittsburgh, even in corners of Harrisburg, sadly,” Mastriano said. “I will establish a blue ribbon Pennsylvania Crime Commission tasked with developing a plan to lower crime rates and increase prosecutions of violent criminals across the state. We'll be partnering with federal law enforcement to target and neutralize violent gangs and criminals, especially these cartels that have expanded to Pennsylvania from Mexico and elsewhere.”

As a last resort, Mastriano said he would consider using the National Guard to clean up crime.

“I know there’s great hesitancy in sending in the National Guard into neighborhoods. Obviously that will be an avenue of last resort. But we’ve seen it before in American history. We had to do it, I think, in the ‘90s in Washington D.C.,” Mastriano said. “That will always be in our pocket, should these endeavors fail to create safe neighborhoods. You know, the parents in Philadelphia—they deserve better. They should not wonder if their babies are going to make it to school alive. And how many heartbroken, empty homes now, caught in the crossfire?”

Sex Trafficking Task Force

Doug Mastriano (R), Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, at a campaign rally with his wife, Rebbie Mastriano (L), in Manheim, Pa., on Oct. 29, 2022. (Beth Brelje/The Epoch Times)
Doug Mastriano (R), Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, at a campaign rally with his wife, Rebbie Mastriano (L), in Manheim, Pa., on Oct. 29, 2022. (Beth Brelje/The Epoch Times)

Another policy is supporting victims of crime, allowing them to testify at bail hearings to ensure their own safety, and keeping all crime victims’ home addresses and personal information confidential.

Mastriano called this a four pillar plan: support law enforcement, keep criminals behind bars, clean up Pennsylvania’s most dangerous neighborhoods, and support victims.

Mastriano also announced he would form a sex trafficking task force, prompted by a woman his wife, Rebbie Mastriano, met in her work.

“I came across somebody who, at 12 years old, was abducted from her country and brought here many years ago, and was locked into a basement for two entire years and was so abused,” Rebbie Mastriano, who was standing at her husband’s side, explained. “She was told by a physician that she would likely not be able to have any more children. Knowing that that can happen in Pennsylvania disgusts and sickens me.”

“We need to realize that we have to watch each other’s backs, and dividing is not doing that, but rather we need to watch out for one another and realize where there might be hurts,” she said. “We should be more open and willing to see where we’re hurting and try to help one another.”

The reality that sex trafficking is happening in cities and most small towns is reprehensible, Doug Mastriano said.

“We’re going to go to war on sex trafficking,” he said.

Beth Brelje is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. politics, state news, and national issues. Ms. Brelje previously worked in radio for 20 years and after moving to print, worked at Pocono Record and Reading Eagle. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]
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