Philly DA wants city’s crime-fighting efforts to go more high-tech

The money would go towards bolstering everything from the crime lab to the cold case unit.

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Larry Krasner speaking at a podium

DA Larry Krasner at a press conference on January 8, 2024. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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Philadelphia’s District Attorney is lobbying for more money for a new crime lab and a cold case unit, which he says will help solve more cases and deter people from committing new crimes.

Krasner said he believes more arrests could be made if the city improved its forensics capabilities.

“My understanding of the amount of money that is involved, that is looking something like $75 million, and if they were to build from the ground up you are looking at more like $150 million.”

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The money to build a new crime lab would go to the police, not the DA’s office, but on the DA’s wishlist also includes a new cold case unit to help give families closure for unsolved homicides.

“We are actually doing the numbers on that now, as part of our budgetary request for next year, a cold case unit on the order of a million dollars.”

Krasner said he’s been lobbying for the crime lab funding for the last four or five years, but believes with a new administration in Philadelphia and some help from the state and Washington, he could have the lab the city desperately needs to close cold cases.

He pointed to a recent case that was closed by the gun violence task force as an example of how high-tech sleuthing can help them close cases. Although he wouldn’t go into details, he said the case revolved around phone traces and tracking to arrest James Adams for his role in a fatal shooting in Strawberry Mansion in 2021.

Adams is facing charges in the murder of Tyron Rozier, whom he allegedly shot in the back in the 2100 block of West Sedgley Avenue on July 4, 2021, using a “ghost gun.” Police took a tip from the public and developed it into the information used for the charges to be filed thanks to digital and forensic techniques.

Krasner said by using things such as wiretaps and reviews of cell phone records, prosecutors can tie people to crimes, but that takes specialized equipment and technicians.

The state and city have already contributed to the project, but it is only about half the money necessary to build a new crime lab, and nothing yet for the cold case unit.

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His goal is to develop a proposal for City Council to fund the cold case unit as part of budget negotiations for the 2025 budget year which begins July 1.

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