NEWARK – Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement today regarding the Governor’s announcement the he is fast-tracking gangland safety initiatives to cities in need, such as Newark and Irvington.
“For years I have been pushing hard for anti-gang measures that would make New Jersey residents safe. I was the sponsor of the ‘Gangland Security Task Force’ that has been studying the gang problem and compiling a plan to combat gangs.
“While we wait for that report, I am excited to see that ‘Operation Cease Fire,’ a program that engages local and State police and community leaders to halt gun violence, has been successful in reducing gun-related crime in Essex County. I know that the expansion of this program, to other cities in need, will only further help eliminate gangs in New Jersey.
“The Attorney General Zulima Farber has indicated that she may need legislative support for some initiatives that will result in a decrease in gang crimes, and I am happy to champion any measure that would help to wipe out gangs in this State.
“I am already the sponsor of the ‘Gun Court’ pilot program that speeds up any court case that involves a firearm. The ‘Gun Court’ legislation, and other measures, such as a bill requiring proof that bail has been obtained through legal means, will ensure that gang members don’t get back out on the street to continue their crimes and intimidate witnesses. Too often gang members circumvent justice by posting bail from ill-gotten gains and harassing those who would testify against them, and these bills halt that practice.
“A key to stopping gangs is keeping our children away from them. By offering after school programs, we are giving our children alternatives to hanging out on street corners. We absolutely need to provide drug treatment, job training, mental health counseling and housing assistance to parolees. Providing these services to former gang members is crucial in keeping them from turning back to a life of crime after their release.
“Gang violence has been a growing problem in New Jersey, but it is also something we can overcome if we continue to work together. By combining the work of the local and State police, religious leaders, anti-gang advocacy groups and municipal and State leaders, we are taking the steps to make our streets safe from gangs.”