LUZERNE COUNTY – (WBRE/WYOU) Some lawmakers in Harrisburg are pushing for tougher laws when it comes to protecting first responders, including Child Protective Service caseworkers.
The effort was prompted, in part, by a firebombing at the offices of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services offices earlier this year.
Several Luzerne County Children and Youth Services caseworkers has some eye-opening remarks about their experiences in the field.
“On a daily basis you never know what you are walking into. You don’t know whose door you are knocking on or who’s behind that door” said Corrine Carper.
Tony Bellizia, another caseworker said, “We showed up at the father’s house he greeted is on the front porch with a gun. Sitting on his porch with a gun resting on his leg saying you’re not taking my kds. You’re not taking my kids”.
There was a firebombing in March at their offices that, while nobody was harmed, sounded alarms about what can be done to protect caseworkers. State representative Tara Toohill wants to create an offensive entitled “Occupational Intimidation” that would increase the penalties for those who make threats against all first responders.
State Senator John Yudichak supports this initiative.
“These are very challenging jobs. They do God’s work in terms of dealing with the families going through this really difficult period of time”.
Luzerne County Councilman Tim McGinley says that some how some way additional funds need to be found to increase staffing and security for CYS caseworkers.
“That”s a very difficult emotional job very dangerous at time because tjhey are woring woth families that are very distressed having issues. I think it’s very important to do whatever we can to protect those people” said McGinley.
Under the new initiaive, any offense would be classifed a “Third Degree Misdemeanor”. It carries a potential penalty of $5,000 in fines and upto 90 days in prison. Currently those who make threats often face harassment charges which can mean no jail time and a small fine.
Toohil says her legislation has recieved bipartisan support. She hopes it will become law by the end of the year.