TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, released the following statement today after the New Jersey Conference of Mayors and the New Jersey League of Municipalities joint press conference on growing gang violence and the need for quick legislative action.
“For years I have recognized the growing gang problem in our communities and will continue to work with the League of Municipalities to make fighting gangs a top priority. Although crime is on the decline across the State, gang-related violence is rising at a substantial rate. Gangs are not just in the inner cities– the problem is everywhere. We need to stop these domestic terrorists now, because every day we lose more children to gang recruitment.
“On July 1st, the Gangland Security Task Force measure, that I sponsored, was enacted. The law created a panel of diverse experts who have been studying gang activity and researching the conditions that further the formation and operations of gangs. The passing of this law was a huge victory for New Jersey because it is a major step towards protecting our streets.
“There is no surprise that gangs are connected to drugs and guns. In New Jersey we have some of the most pure and dangerous cocaine in the country. We also have a growing problem with the number of guns entering our State. This session I am the sponsor of the Gun Court Pilot Program which is essential to stop gang activity that involves firearms.
“By creating a two year pilot program, we can examine alternatives to minimizing delays in the judicial system for crimes that are committed with firearms. The program will also give us the insight needed to implement this program statewide.
“Both the Gangland Security Task Force, and the Gun Court Pilot program are excellent ways of gathering intelligence on gangs and creating a plan to combat the gang problem. We must make some aggressive maneuvers in order to keep gangs from taking over our towns.”