ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today announced the expansion of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative to include four additional sites targeting dangerous street gangs and promoting prevention efforts to keep communities and neighborhoods safe. Attorney General Gonzales made the announcement during a visit to Rochester, N.Y., one of four sites that will receive $2.5 million in additional grant funding to combat gang violence. Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. were also selected to receive funding as part of the Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative.
“Helping law enforcement, state and local leaders, and parents combat gang violence so that our nation’s youth can grow up in safe communities is one of the Justice Department’s top priorities,” stated Attorney General Gonzales. “The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative provides federal, state and local law enforcement with additional resources to increase law enforcement and prevention efforts in targeted areas across the nation. Today’s announcement reinforces the Department’s commitment to keeping America’s neighborhoods safe.”
In February 2006, Attorney General Gonzales announced the creation of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, designed to support law enforcement combating violent gang crime, while also promoting prevention efforts that discourage gang involvement. As part of the initiative, in May 2006 the Department provided anti-gang resources for prevention, enforcement and offender reentry efforts to six sites across the nation: Los Angeles, Tampa, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Milwaukee and the “222 Corridor” that stretches from Easton to Lancaster in Pennsylvania. The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative has already made strides in the original six sites. For example, in Cleveland one of the most violent gangs operating in the target area has been dismantled through both federal and state investigations and prosecutions that have resulted in 63 federal and state indictments. Fifty-five defendants have pled guilty and the remainder are awaiting trial.
The four additional sites were selected to receive these grant funds based on a variety of factors, including the need for concentrated anti-gang resources, established infrastructure to support the envisioned prevention, enforcement and re-entry components, and existing partnerships prepared to focus intensely on the gang problem. U.S. Attorneys in the four sites selected today will be responsible for coordinating federal, state and local efforts under this initiative.
The Justice Department’s strategy to combat gang violence around the nation is two-fold: First, prioritize prevention programs to provide America’s youth, as well as offenders returning to the community, with opportunities that help them resist gang involvement. Second, ensure robust enforcement policies when gang-related violence does occur.
The U.S. Attorney in the selected areas will work with state, local and community partners to implement strategies that address the following areas:
Since 2001, the Department of Justice has allocated over $1.6 billion to combat violent crime at the federal, state and local levels. The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative complements existing Department of Justice programs to combat gangs and reduce gun-related crime throughout the country. Those programs include the Violent Crime Impact Teams, Safe Streets Task Forces and the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, under which the number of federal firearms prosecutions has more than doubled in the past six years, compared to the six years prior to PSN’s implementation.