Last month, Cambria County reached ten homicides for this year alone.
That raised the total number of homicides in the county to 77 in the last ten years.
“It is a wake up call, and it should be a wake up call to all of us.”
That’s what Pennsylvania State Representative Jim Rigby said on Thursday morning alongside Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees.
“We’re very concerned about what’s happening to our city and to our county, which is why both of us have agreed to put this fight on,”
They found a new way to help find a solution to the homicide crisis, digging deeper into the root of the problem.
“Trying to reduce violent deaths from occurring is always a priority,”
On August 10th, the Coroner’s Office entered an agreement through a grant with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
They’ll be tracking critical data, hard facts, and useful statistics on every homicide in the county and sending it to the PA DOH.
“We’re trying to share as much information to other agencies and leaders in our community doing whatever we can to reduce these violent deaths from occurring,”
Out of those 77 homicides, the average age was 33-years-old, 56 of them were male, 21 were female, 61 of them were caused by firearms.
“With accurate and timely data, we can better support local communities, target resources more efficiently, and also reduce the number of lives lost to violence,” said Coroner Lees.
Saint Francis University students will be conducting the research.
They’ll pinpoint the times, dates, locations, ages, genders, and other facts related to each homicide.
“At this point, we can guess all these things. We can give opinions as to what they should be. But if we really want to fight it, and come up with a solution and we have the facts behind us to support that then I think we can move forward,”
Is the solution hiring more police officers? Revamping housing projects?
This data tracking system will help determine that, Cambria County officials tell us
“When I go back to the state, or the senator, or the congressman and we go to fight for those dollars even at the local level, I’ve got facts to support why we need these monies to do whatever those projects are,”
Trading opinions on how to fix the problem for facts and figures.
“Nobody likes to talk about anything negative, and this is negative. There’s no doubt. But, the only way that I believe we can overcome this, is to be honest and address these problems head on,”
Both officials cited drugs and mental health problems as causes for the homicides.
They hope this data tracking through the PA DOH will help determine other causes.