Once Thorough Information on Gangs is Collected, Real Impact Will Come
TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice today said that the information gathering by the newly formed Gangland Security Task Force is key to dealing with the need to address New Jersey’s emerging crisis of gang violence.
“In order to win the war on gangs, New Jersey must first gather comprehensive intelligence on the gang infrastructure,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “I sponsored the law to create the 26-member Gangland Security Task Force, which will investigate and collect extensive information on gangs. Only when we have a complete understanding of gangs and how they operate, can we begin to devise a real plan to clean up our streets.”
According to Senator Rice, the Acting Governor and Senate President, Richard Codey, is currently appointing members to the task force. The panel will soon begin studying gangs and their relationship to various types of crime and other groups or organizations, added Senator Rice.
“As a former law enforcement officer with an educational background in criminal justice administrative planning, I know, first hand, that we must use all possible intelligence to create a well-organized plan to eliminate gangs,” said Senator Rice. “I would also like any plans to include various organizations from all law enforcement agencies to the education and health departments.”
“I want the task force to investigate why young people join gangs, and that, in turn, will help us fight the recruitment of our children,” said Senator Rice. “The task force must also gather information on how to help gang members leave the criminal lifestyle and offer assistance with their transition out of gangs. Knowledge is power, and once we fully know how gangs operate we can use that intelligence to truly eradicate this growing menace to our communities.”
Senator Rice stated, “I feel that, in the past, we have not taken a deep enough look at the connections between gangs and other criminal activities. It’s obvious that there is a relationship between gangs and organized crime, but I want to know more. I want the task force to fully answer all of the why, where, and how questions that have yet to be answered about gangs.”
Senator Rice states that the Gangland Security Task Force should investigate:
1. The relationship between gangs, guns and drugs.
2. The relationship between gangs and organized crime.
3. The relationship between gangs and auto theft.
4. The relationship between gangs, inmates and parolees.
5. The relationship between gangs and money laundering.
6. The relationship between gangs and terrorism.
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Under the law, the 26-member Task Force would be composed of 10 legislative members and the following 16 public members appointed by the Governor:
1. Someone from the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation.
2. Someone from a county prosecutor’s offices.
3. Someone from a county sheriff’s offices.
4. Two people from The New Jersey County Jail Wardens’ Association.
5. Someone from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
6. Someone with training and experience in substance abuse counseling.
7. Someone with training and experience in family and youth counseling.
8. A medical professional with expertise in the psychology of aggressive behavior.
9. Two people from community and faith based organizations located within cities identified by law enforcement officials as having significant gang-related activity.
10. Two members of the general public who are between the ages of 18 and 25 years, who reside in cities identified by law enforcement officials as having significant gang-related activity.
11. Someone from the Drug Policy Alliance.
12. Someone from the Police Institute of Rutgers University.
13. Someone from the New Jersey Chapter of the East Coast Gang Investigator’s Association.
According to Senator Rice, the law also designates the following State officers as members: the Commissioners of Corrections, Human Services, Education; the Superintendent of the State Police; two members of the Senate; two members of the General Assembly; the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission and the Attorney General as chair.
Senator Rice also stated that, the task force will report to the Governor and the Legislature about their progress no later than 90 days after its organization. They will be required to have a final proposal no later than 120 days after the members are chosen.
The task force will also work along side the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Unites States Attorney General, added Senator Rice.
Senator Rice also said that he is currently working on legislation that will amend his new law to include more members to the task force. “In addition to the current list of departments that will be asked to participate in the task force I want to extend the invitation to the Department of Labor,” said Senator Rice. “I also want to see the League of Municipalities represented, and I would also include someone with gang expertise from the urban community to be represented on the task force.”