However Urban Lawmaker Raises Concerns about Future Spending of Gang Crime Resources
TRENTON – Senator Brian P. Stack, D-Hudson, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement today on the Committee’s hearing of the FY 2009 Department of Law and Public Safety Budget, in particular focusing on the funding New Jersey spends on anti-gang initiatives in New Jersey’s urban communities:
“In the last few years, New Jersey has ratcheted up gang prevention and policing programs in urban communities that have been terrorized by gang crime and violence.
“We’ve added gang criminality offenses, to ensure harsher sentencing for gang crime offenders. We’ve cut down on the number of guns which are in our communities illegally. And we’ve developed a much better understanding of the problems and issues concerning violent crime and gang presence in our State’s cities.
“Programs such as Operation Ceasefire and Project Phoenix have helped to promote community involvement in fighting gang crime, and giving kids an alternative to life on the streets. These programs, so far, have shown to be successful partnerships between community groups, faith-based programs, social services providers and local government to address affects of, and factors leading to, increased gang presence in New Jersey.
“However, in this year’s FY 2009 Budget proposed by Governor Corzine, both of these programs are held to the same funding as last year. While I understand that our current fiscal problems prevent us from increasing funding to Operation Ceasefire or Project Phoenix, I think we may be able to do more with our limited State dollars by developing our own gang prevention curriculum.
“At the end of the day, we must make funding for public safety programs a priority in the FY 2009 Budget, and we must continue funding programs which translate to results for the people of the State. New Jersey has a responsibility to support gang prevention initiatives, but we need to do so as efficiently and effectively as possible. The end result must be the continued safety and security of law-abiding citizens in New Jersey’s urban core.”