Keeping Philadelphia safe during New Year's celebrations

Thursday, December 31, 2015
VIDEO: Officials emphasize safety when celebrating the New Year
In Philadelphia, police have a warning to those celebrating the New Year: Be smart or you will have to answer to them.

PENN'S LANDING (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials are working extra hard this year to make sure everyone who's out and about celebrating has a safe and happy New Year.

All over town city officials will be going all out Thursday and Friday to ensure the safety of everyone celebrating the arrival of 2016.

Joe Jaskolka is 28 now and has become a crusader against celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve. He was hit in the head with a stray bullet that had been fired into the air when he was 11. Fifty four surgeries later, he continues to make dramatic progress.

Philadelphia's top law enforcement officials say, as they do every New Year's Eve, do not engage in celebratory gunfire. If you do you will wind up in jail.

District Attorney Seth Williams says, "We cannot have people firing guns into the sky. The police will be out. I've asked Commissioner Ramsey to ensure that police are on the lookout for that and people who are caught firing handguns, they'll be charged with recklessly endangering another person."

And Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey adds, "There's still too much gunfire, but I think there has been a bit of a reduction. Last year between 10 o'clock and 3 a.m. we had 78 calls of gunshots. Now, the reality is most people don't bother to call 911 on New Year's Eve when they hear gunshots."

As for security, around big events like the Mummer's Parade and the fireworks at Penn's Landing, police security will be beefed up.

Even though there are no known credible terroristic threats to Philadelphia, our city is on security alert.

Ramsey explains, "We have extra coverage tonight and tomorrow for the events. All of you know the reports of some threats made toward New York, Washington and Los Angeles. There have been no direct threats made toward Philadelphia, but that doesn't mean that we don't need to be vigilant."