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Schumer Unveils Comprehensive Plan To Crack Down On Gangs And School Violence With Violent Crime Up 10 Percent And Schools On Edge After Recent Rash Of Shootings

Mayors, DAs, and Local Law Enforcement Officials are Reporting a Spike in Gang Violence and a Need For Better Security at Schools, But They Don't Have the Tools or the Resources to Get the Job Done

Bi-Partisan Effort Would Provide More than $1 billion in New Funding for Gang Enforcement, Prevention and Intervention Programs Over the Next Five Years

Schumer Releases Report Det

With concerns over the growing gang presence across upstate New York and an increase in school violence in the United States, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released a new report showing that there has been a 10 percent increase in reports of violent crime and a nearly 20 percent jump in the number of drug arrests in cities and communities across upstate New York. According to Schumer's report, there were nearly 14,000 arrests for violent crimes in 2005. In addition to gangs, local law enforcement, teachers and parents are also raising serious concerns about recent violence at elementary and high schools across the country. Schumer said incidents in Pennsylvania and Las Vegas show that the federal government is not doing nearly enough to provide schools with the tools and resources they need to keep our kids safe.

"Gangs are starting to spread like a virus in upstate cities and communities," Schumer said. "The best vaccine to combat the rise of gangs and gang violence is a comprehensive assault to break those gangs up and provide support for law enforcement, from the cop on the street to the Department of Justice, who are on the front lines with the resources they need and deserve. Our legislation will give law enforcement officials and our schools new resources to combat the growth of gangs."

Upstate New York has seen an increase in violent crime and drugrelated offenses across the board. In 2005, 25,113 violent crimes were reported according to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services. This represents an increase of nearly 10 percent from 23,310 reported in 2000. Schumer said that there has also been an even greater increase in the number of felony and misdemeanor drug arrests. In 2000, 19,113 arrests were made for drug related crimes (both felony and misdemeanor). That number rose to 22,449 arrests in 2005, a 17.5 percent increase. Arrests for violent crime were also up to 13,812 in 2005, up from 13,422 in 2000. Below is how the numbers break out across the state:

  • In the Capital Region, there were 3,443 violent crimes reported in 2005, and 2,846 drug arrests.
  • In Central New York, there were 2,876 violent crimes reported in 2005, and 2,203 drug arrests.
  • In the RochesterFinger Lakes region, there were 3,456 violent crimes reported in 2005, and 2,278 drug arrests.
  • In the Hudson Valley, there were 6,055 violent crimes reported in 2005, and 7,763 drug arrests.
  • In the North Country, there were 1,151 violent crimes reported in 2005, and 793 drug arrests.
  • In the Southern Tier, there were 1,268 violent crimes reported in 2005, and 1,318 drug arrests.
  • In Western New York, there were 6,864 violent crimes reported in 2005 and 5,338 drug arrests.

    According to local law enforcement, there are tens of thousands of gang members operating in areas across upstate New York. The first type of gang threat is from independent street gangs that are modeled after, but have no formal affiliation with, national gangs. The second wave of activity is concentrated in small sets of national gangs that have moved north from downstate. Though activity is mostly centered in inner cities, gang activity has been reported in smaller cities, towns, and suburbs.

    Schumer today also raised serious concerns about the rising tide of violence in elementary schools across the country and said that the federal government has not done nearly enough to provide local school districts and law enforcement with the resources necessary to beef up security if it's needed. Schumer cited recent shootings at schools in Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as evidence that the problem of school violence is still very real.

    Schumer said that the Administration has repeatedly cut funding for programs meant to provide vital safety and security funding for schools in upstate New York and across the country. From a high of $180 million in 2002, the COPS in Schools program has been steadily reduced until funding was completely eliminated for FY 2006, and it is zeroed out in this year's budget.

    "When the federal government draws back funding, it means our schools have to take money away from other vital programs that we all care about. School districts should have to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to protect our kids."

    To combat the growing threat of gang violence in cities and communities in upstate New York and across the country, Schumer today announced a new plan to combat the rise in gangs and growing fears over violence at schools. He announced two new pieces of legislation that would provide more than $1 billion in new federal funding to combat the rise of gangs and impose tough new penalties for those who participate in gang violence.

  • Schumer announced that he will be a lead cosponsor, among a bipartisan group of Judiciary Committee members, of new comprehensive gang prevention and enforcement legislation that is being authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein and will be introduced today. The FeinsteinHatchSchumer Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 includes more than $1 billion over the next five years for Federal, State and local law enforcement efforts against violent gangs, for witness protection programs, and services geared toward gang prevention. Included in the $1 billion is $100 million over five years to expand crime control grants to state and local governments, so they can hire additional prosecutors, staff and technology as needed to bring more cases against gangs and violent criminals. The bill is endorsed by the National Association of Police Organizations. The new legislation also creates new criminal gang offenses to prohibit recruitment of minors in a criminal street gang, and to punish violent crimes related to gangs. The bill also replaces the current federal law's mere sentencing enhancement for gangrelated conduct a provision rarely used with a new federal antigang law that directly criminalizes and penalizes criminal street gang crime, and related conspiracies and attempts to commit crimes in furtherance of a criminal street gang.

  • Also included in the Gang bill is a provision based on legislation authored by Senator Schumer during the 109th Congress called the Short Term Witness Protection Act. The bill would create a new federal grants program to pay for protecting witnesses in state and local criminal trials, providing $90,000,000 for short term grants to provide witness protection, either through the U.S. Marshall's service or using local law enforcement. Funds from the Schumer grants program will be distributed to local and state prosecutors at the discretion of the Attorney General. Schumer said that most of the funds will be distributed to states like New York that have 100 or more murders a year.

  • The second piece of legislation, School Safety Enhancements Act, lead by Schumer and Senator Barbara Boxer, would also create a new grant program to provide local educational agencies with grants for programs to prevent and respond to violence in elementary and secondary schools. The bill would provide $50 million a year in grants to schools for hiring and training of police and safety officials, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, and capital improvements to make schools more secure. Last year, Schumer also wrote to President Bush asking him to include an additional $200 million for federal school safety programs in his FY 2008 budget, which is set to be released next week. The bill will be introduced in the coming days