OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today joined U.S. Attorney John C. Richter of the Western District of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to announce the expansion of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative to include Oklahoma City as one of four additional sites targeting dangerous street gangs and promoting prevention efforts to keep communities and neighborhoods safe. As part of the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, Oklahoma City will receive $2.5 million in additional grant funding to combat gang violence.
“Every American deserves to live free from the fear of violent gangs,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “The Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative helps keep communities safe by providing additional resources to increase law enforcement and prevention efforts in targeted areas across the nation. I applaud the work of the men and women of Oklahoma who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities, and I am pleased to provide additional resources that will help make the neighborhoods of Oklahoma City safer from gang violence.”
Oklahoma City is one of four target areas chosen to receive additional funding as part of the Department’s initiative to combat gang violence, including Indianapolis, Rochester, N.Y., and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. Supported by $2.5 million in grant funds per site, the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative incorporates prevention and enforcement efforts, as well as programs to assist released prisoners as they re-enter society. By integrating prevention, enforcement and prisoner re-entry, the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative aims to address gang membership and gang violence at every stage.
“I want to thank the hard work and dedication of law enforcement and city
leaders, who have come together to fight the scourge of gang violence,” said
U.S. Attorney Richter. “We have an ambitious goal—the eradication of criminal
gangs in Oklahoma City. With these grants, we can build on the progress we
already are making in both the number of prosecutions and the number of our
City’s young people whom we are able to save from the clutches of gang life.”
In February 2006, Attorney General Gonzales announced the creation of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, designed to support law enforcement in combatting 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 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.
As a result, in Oklahoma City, on May 23, 2006, U.S. Attorney Richter,
joined by federal, state and local law enforcement partners announced a
comprehensive anti-gang strategy for Oklahoma City and the formation of the
Oklahoma City Metropolitan Gang Task Force.
Oklahoma City was 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. Building on the comprehensive anti-gang strategy unveiled last year, U.S. Attorney John Richter will work with state, local and community partners in Oklahoma City to implement strategies that address the following areas:
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. Since 2001, the Department of Justice has allocated over $1.6 billion to PSN to combat violent crime at the federal, state and local levels.