Guns a hot topic at ‘Take Back Your Neighborhood’

Mark Gilson, chief of the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s North­east bur­eau, re­calls a time when a per­son con­victed of car­ry­ing an un­li­censed gun re­ceived a sen­tence of pro­ba­tion.

Today, the sen­tence for the same crime is of­ten five years in pris­on.

“That’s a sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­ence,” Gilson said.

Gilson spoke at last week’s meet­ing of Take Back Your Neigh­bor­hood, a Castor Gar­dens-based civic as­so­ci­ation.

Bry­an Lentz also ad­dressed the group. A former state rep­res­ent­at­ive from Delaware County, he heads the of­fice’s Gun Vi­ol­ence Task Force.

Like Gilson, Lentz noted a crack­down on people with il­leg­al guns, call­ing it, “Carry less, shoot less.” He said they are get­ting stiff sen­tences, “even from some of the weak­est judges.”

Lentz told the story of “The Plat­ter Boyz,” a gang al­leged to have been in­volved in 30 shoot­ings in the area of G and West­mo­re­land streets.

“With­in six months,” he said, “eight mem­bers of that gang were in state pris­on.”

Gilson su­per­vises a dozen as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­neys who handle cases in the 2nd, 7th, 8th and 15th po­lice dis­tricts. He said gun crimes are on the rise in the 15th dis­trict and parts of the 2nd dis­trict. The cases are usu­ally heard on the 10th floor of the Crim­in­al Justice Cen­ter. A man sit­ting in the front seat asked Gilson to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between people car­ry­ing guns leg­ally and il­leg­ally. The man was wear­ing a li­censed gun on his hip. Gilson said his team is ask­ing city bail com­mis­sion­ers to set high bail on gun sus­pects.

“We are routinely get­ting six-fig­ure bail on these guys,” he said. “They’re not mak­ing bail.”

In oth­er news from the Jan. 22 meet­ing:

• Tina Bod­ine, a phys­i­cian li­ais­on with Aria Health, in­vited people age 55 and older to a monthly break­fast at Aria’s Frank­ford Cam­pus, at 4900 Frank­ford Ave. The ses­sions run from 8 to 10 a.m. on the last Tues­day of the month in the second-floor con­fer­ence rooms. They in­clude a guest speak­er, along with a raffle. To re­serve a seat, call toll-free 1-877-808-ARIA.

• Frank Eich­horn, a rep­res­ent­at­ive of the North­east Phil­adelphia af­fil­i­ate of the Na­tion­al Al­li­ance on Men­tal Ill­ness, in­vited the com­munity to at­tend monthly meet­ings. The group meets on the second Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. at Friends Hos­pit­al.

Eich­horn said the dis­order im­pacts people from all kinds of back­grounds.

“Men­tal ill­ness is an equal-op­por­tun­ity ill­ness,” he said. For more in­form­a­tion, go to Phil­

• Di­anne Murphy earli­er this month re­placed Mark Mroz as com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer in the 2nd Po­lice Dis­trict. Mroz now works as an aide to In­spect­or Mike Co­chrane, com­mand­er of the North­east Po­lice Di­vi­sion.

Murphy en­cour­aged res­id­ents and busi­ness own­ers to take part in the po­lice de­part­ment’s Op­er­a­tion Iden­ti­fic­a­tion burg­lary-de­terrent pro­gram. The de­part­ment sup­plies la­bels that in­clude an iden­ti­fic­a­tion num­ber. The la­bels are placed on valu­able prop­erty. If po­lice are able to re­cov­er stolen prop­erty, it can be re­turned to the own­er based on the ID num­ber. 

In­di­vidu­als can re­quest a par­ti­cip­a­tion form at any po­lice sta­tion.

• The civic as­so­ci­ation is plan­ning a com­munity garden this spring on the 6500 block of Hor­rocks St., along the peri­met­er of Max My­ers Play­ground. The pub­lic will be in­vited to grow ve­get­ables. A plan­ning meet­ing is set for Sat­urday, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m. at the play­ground.

• A Max My­ers-based Girl Scout troop is selling cook­ies every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the play­ground, at 1601 Heller­man St.

• Take Back will meet Tues­day, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m., at Max My­ers Play­ground. Guests will be City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez; Brett Man­del, a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate for city con­trol­ler; and a rep­res­ent­at­ive from the 2nd Po­lice Dis­trict. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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