Philadelphia spends $200,000 more to protect witnesses

    City and State lawmakers say they are worried big cuts are on their way from Harrisburg

    As Harrisburg legislators continue to wrestle with the state budget some are calling for an increase in funds for witness protection programs. Philadelphia Mayor Nutter stood with several area lawmakers Monday and pledged additional city funds to help protect those who put themselves at risk by testifying.

    Philadelphia will add $200,000 to the city’s witness protection budget. Law enforcement officials say the money will help fill the gap left by anticipated state budget cuts.

    Senator Anthony Hardy Williams says he and other Philadelphia area lawmakers are asking Governor Rendell to increase the money for witness protection.

    “So in these waning hours of wrapping up this budget this is something we want to fight for. Cause this is a lifeboat. It’s certainly not the boat but it is a lifeboat. Here is where we stop, this is the line in the sand.”

    Williams says they’re trying to get one million set aside statewide for witness protection. The city program relocates residents to different neighborhoods. The aid typically lasts four months. Law enforcement officials say the current funds are inadequate to address the widespread problem, where defendants or their allies have often intimidated witnesses in open court.

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