OLYMPIA, WA – Washington State Attorney General’s anti-gang bill will be considered by a key legislative committee on Wednesday.
The bill directs the legislature to approach the federal government to fund local anti-gang prevention and intervention programs. It also includes laws to restrict criminal street-gang members from recruiting members, possessing firearms or consuming drugs and alcohol in certain areas and creates tougher penalties for juveniles involved in firearms offenses. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw and others.
“This bill will provide a powerful new tool to prosecutors and communities to deal with criminal street gangs,” said Rep. Christopher Hurst. D-Enumclaw, chair of the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee and a retired police detective. “This tool has helped other jurisdictions substantially reduce gang violence in their communities, and I have every confidence it will have the same effect here in Washington.”
At a work session in December, Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, warned that some neighborhoods in the state are “nearly under siege” from gang violence.
The House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss the bill at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, in the John O’Brien Building, Hearing Room D.
“I’m looking forward to a thorough discussion about this legislation,” Rep. Ross said. “Some of my constituents will be making a strong case for action now to address the plague of criminal street gangs in our communities.”
“This legislation is another tool that empowers citizens and local law enforcement to fight back against the terrible scourge of gangs,” said Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, the Republican leader on the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “Families need to know we are putting in place all the pieces to better protect them from the damage created by gang activities.”