PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 18, 2023): Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Second District), Vice Chair of Council’s Public Safety Committee and Chair of Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (Third District), member of Council’s Public Safety Committee, issued the following joint statement about a new Pennsylvania law that allows the creation of a special prosecutor for SEPTA crimes in Philadelphia:
“Pennsylvania has a new law on the books today, Act 40 of 2023, that empowers the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes that occur on SEPTA property through 2026. Philadelphians have already spoken and elected a district attorney to carry out these responsibilities, both on SEPTA property and across the rest of the city, and this new law takes away that voice.
“Act 40 sets a dangerous, undemocratic precedent and undermines Philadelphia’s home rule powers and disenfranchises Philadelphia’s voters. Philadelphia does not need a special prosecutor for crimes on SEPTA property. The District Attorney’s Office should continue their current responsibilities and be the lead agency to investigate and prosecute crimes in Philadelphia without outside interference.
“Act 40 mandates the City of Philadelphia to foot the bill for this shameful effort to disenfranchise our residents. Forcing City Council to reimburse an office it has no oversight or authority over undermines our constitutional authority to appropriate City funds. Act 40 will only make it harder for City Council to spend our constituents’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars on services that actually reduce crime.
“We urge Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry to see that Act 40 is unconstitutional and not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate crimes committed on SEPTA property.”