Top U.S. prosecutor plans to get tough on gun, gang crimes in midstate

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 20, 2015 4:43 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Police patrolling on the streets can only do so much to fight crime. So the top federal prosecutor in the midstate is ramping up his efforts.

Peter Smith with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District is paying close attention to illegal guns and gangs.

He wants to get the guns off the streets, and break up the gangs.

Working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Smith says they've already had success in Harrisburg.

"We're going to expand and increase that. We're going to focus a little more on the particularly violent criminals whether they're home-grown or whether they're coming from some other part of the Commonwealth or the country, and we're going to maximize the number of federal statutes we can use," says Smith.

Smith says the focus will be on Harrisburg, York, Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre.

He says in the past, his office hasn't brought every possible charge in cases.

"We have tended in the past sometimes not to use all the weapons in our arsenal. I've asked the U.S. Attorney's Office staff to concentrate on bringing all the charges that are applicable, particularly all the firearms charges that are applicable," he adds.

But he acknowledges there's a limit to his powers.

He says communities still need to address economic and community relations concerns, plus mental health issues.

Smith spoke on WITF's Smart Talk.

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