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Philadelphia Officials Plead For Gunfire-Free New Year’s Eve Celebrations

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — District attorney Seth Williams and police commissioner Charles Ramsey today made their annual plea to Philadelphians not to fire guns into the air to celebrate the arrival of the new year. They say it’s a dangerous practice that can have tragic consequences, and they promised strict enforcement of laws prohibiting the practice.

It’s an annual reminder that, apparently, isn’t reaching its target audience.

Greg Jaskolka used to look forward to New Year’s traditions like watching the ball drop, banging pots, and kissing his family.

Now, his annual tradition is pushing his wheelchair-bound son, Joe, to police headquarters to put a human face on the consequences of so-called “celebratory” gunfire.

“We want to plead, cajole, whatever you want to call it,” Greg (wearing tan jacket in photo) said today.  “Please don’t do this.”

This is the fourteenth year that Jaskolka has made his plea.  But every year, police report more than a hundred calls for gunfire between 10 pm and 2 am on New Year’s Eve.

Last year, Philadelphia DA Seth Williams says, there were 154 such calls — up over the last two years.

“What happened to Joe could have happened to 154 Philadelphians last year,” Williams said.

He is promising zero-tolerance enforcement.

“We will have extra police officers working tonight, specifically out looking for people doing this sort of thing,” said Commissioner Ramsey (far left in photo.)  “And if we find you, we will lock you up.  We will lock you up.”

Police did arrest nine people last year.  Three are still awaiting trial; one case was dismissed; one defendant is missing; four pleaded guilty, but the DA’s office did not know immediately if they’d been sentenced.