HARRISBURG – A bipartisan group of Senators yesterday highlighted the inclusion of $2.5 million in the state budget to create a new Mobile Street Crimes Unit in the Attorney General's office to fight gang activity across Pennsylvania.
The five senators – Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9), Sen. John Rafferty (R-44), Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26), Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) and Sen. John Yudichak (D-14) – collaborated last year to pass legislation, now Act 200 of 2012, making it a crime to recruit criminal gang members and toughening sentences for various crimes committed by street gangs.
"The negative impact of gang activity can be seen in communities all over Pennsylvania – urban, suburban and rural," Pileggi said. "Act 200 gives district attorneys new tools to prosecute gang members, and the funding for this Mobile Street Crimes Unit gives the Attorney General the ability to work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to combat gangs across our state."
Act 200 added Pennsylvania to a list of more than two dozen states that have anti-gang recruitment laws. The senators said funding the new Mobile Street Crimes Unit is part of an ongoing, comprehensive effort to crack down on gang activity in Pennsylvania.
"Gangs prey upon our young and vulnerable citizens and threaten the health, safety welfare and peacefulness of our communities." Rafferty said. "We need to recognize the very real and very serious threat that these gangs pose and give members of law enforcement the tools and resources necessary to combat them. With the funding for the Mobile Street Crimes Unit, the Attorney General can now invade their 'turf' to combat gangs across the Commonwealth."
"With this funding support, the Mobile Street Crimes Unit will be able to team local law enforcement agencies with the FBI and state police to target criminal gangs and the drug trade in specific communities," Erickson added. "This aggressive, strategic approach is designed to knock criminal gangs off balance and not let them feel comfortable using our roads for drug trafficking or setting up criminal enterprises in our communities. It's a coordinated effort designed to restore a sense of security in communities now plagued by gang activity."
"Our job as state legislators is to make sure that law enforcement has the tools and resources needed to fight the scourge of gang activity across the Commonwealth," Baker said. "Gangs are often on the move, so the Mobile Street Crimes Unit allows them to strike back wherever the need arises, providing an indispensable weapon for protecting our communities."
"Government can work for people and it works best when leaders work together to deliver on the primary purpose of government – the safety and security of Pennsylvania families," Yudichak commented. "With an exceptional level of cooperation, Attorney General Kathleen Kane worked with the General Assembly to develop a new and innovative Mobile Street Crime Unit that will supersize law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal gangs that are proliferating drugs and violence in communities across Pennsylvania."
Attorney General Kane requested funds to create the Mobile Street Crimes Unit to fight gang activity during the Senate's public hearings on the state budget in February.
Kane has said the unit will combine resources from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation & Drug Control, and local police departments.