TRENTON – Senator John A. Girgenti, Chairman of the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee released the following statement after today’s hearing on combating gang crime in New Jersey.
Those invited to testify included: Gregory Paw, the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice; Thomas James, the Director of the Division of Parole; the New Jersey State Police; and the regional representatives from the League of Municipalities.
“This hearing is the second in a series of meetings that are designed to be proactive against the scourge of gangs. In order to effectively address our growing gang problem, it’s important to have hearings that allow us to gather extensive information on gangs and obtain recommendations from experts on how to proceed.
“The pervasiveness of gangs in urban, suburban and even rural communities is undeniable. Gangs today are highly organized, more sophisticated and increasingly brazen in their use of violence and intimidation tactics, which has prompted law enforcement authorities to examine how they need to fight gangs.
“I’m confident that we can create powerful legislation based on the testimony from the Street Gang Bureau of the State Police. We can make a difference in the war on gangs by getting local law enforcement from all municipalities connected to the State’s gang member database.
“The gravity of the situation compels all branches of government to work together. We can only fight the rising gang problem in New Jersey through a comprehensive and coordinated effort.
“Representatives from the League of Municipalities, Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser and Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith provided strong testimony on the success of the State CeaseFire program that identifies individuals at risk of committing a weapons crime. By looking at the community outreach aspect of the CeaseFire program, we can further develop neighborhood involvement in reducing crime by helping children avoid guns and find more constructive outlets for resolving conflict.
“I’m currently working on preventive legislation that will help us get to our children before the gangs do by teaching the anti-gang message early on in school. We need to find ways to make schools more appealing and give children an alternative to gangs.”