McNerney introduces anti-gang bill

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, introduced legislation today that would create the National Gang Activity Database so that law enforcement officials nationwide could track and share information about gang members and their activities.

Additionally, according to McNerney’s office, the National Safe Streets Gang Crime Prevention Act of 2007 expands the FBI Safe Streets’ gang enforcement teams, including the Stockton Violent Crime Task Force, Central Valley Gang Impact Team and and the Oakland Safe Streets Task Force. The bill authorizes $50 million over the next five years for the FBI Safe Streets program.

“As gang activity spreads across geographic boundaries, local law enforcement officials need a mechanism to easily share gang intelligence with each other,” McNerney said in a press release. “As we’ve all seen lately the way to make a dent in gang activity is to share information and cooperate across all levels of government.”

As a caveat, one should always keep in mind that many bills are introduced but very few ever make it into law. As a freshman with little or no influence on powerful House committees, McNerney’s chances of success aren’t high. On the other hand, Democrats want to help McNerney win re-election in 2008 and they might just help him out with a crime-fighting bill that will probably appeal to the voters in his Republican-majority district.

According to McNerney’s office, the National Safe Streets Gang Crime Prevention Act of 2007, H.R. 3474, will create a “National Gang Activity Database, administered by the Department of Justice, to disseminate information on gangs, gang members, firearms, criminal activities, vehicles, and other useful information. This information would be used to identify and track gangs in order to solve and prevent gang crime.”

Here’s the balance of McNerney’s release:

The database would be available for use by investigators to solve and reduce gang-related crimes, allowing law enforcement officials to track the movement of gangs and members throughout a region, and coordinate law enforcement response.

“Fighting gang violence requires a multi-pronged approach with cooperation at the local, state, and federal levels,” said Rep. McNerney. “This database ensures that law enforcement officers at all different agencies will have access to pertinent, current information. With at least 84 gangs being tracked in the city of Stockton alone, and hundreds more in the state of California, information sharing is critically important.”

“This legislation will help law enforcement reduce gang-related crime and keep innocent people out of harm’s way,” said Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson. Officials from throughout East Contra Costa County, including from the Brentwood Police Department, will gather on September 22 to hold a Gang Summit.

Rep. McNerney introduced the National Safe Streets Gang Crime Prevention Act of 2007, H.R. 3474, earlier today. It will now be referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen