HARRISBURG, October 27, 2021 – Chaired by Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee took action on a bill today that would create a grant program to establish Safe Exchange Zones throughout Pennsylvania.
Introduced by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), Senate Bill 881 encourages municipal and police cooperation – via a new Safe Exchange Zone grant program – to enhance public safety.
The zones, typically located near a police facility, are utilized by citizens to exchange merchandise purchased online, as well as child custody exchanges, among other practices.
“In the 14th Senate District, the City of Wilkes-Barre has a Safe Exchange Zone in place, and it has been a complete success,” said State Senator Yudichak. “I applaud Senator Langerholc for his vision in setting the structure for this grant program to be successful.”
“I would highly recommend encouraging other police departments and municipalities to move forward with Safe Exchange Zones,” said Wilkes-Barre City Police Community Policing Officer Kirk Merchel. “It has been a complete success.”
Grants could be used for surveillance equipment, signage or other program necessities.
Langerholc explained that the legislation is a result of a tragedy that occurred earlier this year in Cambria County, part of the 35th Senate District. He noted that Safe Exchange Zones will make Pennsylvania communities safer and prevent future tragedy.
“Senate Bill 881 will ensure individuals in our community are safe and prevent future tragedies from occurring,” said State Senator Langerholc. “This legislation codifies the hard work of the District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement in Cambria County and expands the safety net for all Commonwealth residents.”
As a result of Wednesday’s vote, the legislation advances to the full Senate for consideration. The bill is supported by the PA Sheriff’s Association, as well as police departments throughout the state.