TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, a leading legislative advocate for safer communities, today said the Corzine Administration should expand its anti-gang, anti-violence initiatives by using federal homeland security funds to add police street patrols.
“The terror in our communities is coming from violent street gangs, not al-Qaida,” said Senator Turner. “We should be helping towns cope with violence by putting more police on the streets.”
Senator Turner, D-Mercer, said she was glad the Corzine Administration was promoting her bill, S-2017, to protect the identity of victims and witnesses involved in crimes who are often threatened by gang members prior to court action.
“We have to protect the lives of those who are willing to speak out against the growing menace of gang violence where the mentality all too often is simply another day, another murder,” Senator Turner said.
Also included in the anti-gang initiative were Senator Turner’s bill, S-2470, to make it illegal to purchase ammunition without all needed gun permits to use the ammunition, and S-1756, a bill she is co-sponsoring to enhance penalties for criminal street gang recruitment on school grounds or in correctional facilities.
“We’re just enablers to gun violence if we can’t crack down on a guy driving around with a car load of bullets, but with no permission to legally fire a gun,” said Senator Turner.
“I’m hopeful the Governor’s focus on fighting gangs and gun violence will trigger the statewide wakeup call we need,” Senator Turner said. “Now that everyone realizes gangs are a statewide problem, I hope we can get some action. But I still believe our first line of attack should be to put more police on the streets.”
Last January, Governor Corzine signed Senator Turner’s bill, S-2009, to impose a mandatory prison term of at least three years or half a term of up to 10 years as well as a fine of up to $150,000 for possessing so-called community guns which are passed around by gang members for designated acts of violence.
Earlier this session, Senator Turner also sponsored legislation which requires full cash bail for those charged with violent crimes, which law enforcement leaders have said is already drawing positive results in deterring bail jumping.
In addition, Senator Turner sponsored a law this year which authorizes source bail hearings for suspects in violent offenses to ensure that money used to get violent suspects out of custody originates from legitimate sources.
“Gang members shouldn’t be allowed to ‘buy’ their freedom by having colleagues show up with cash secured from criminal activities,” she said.