Governor Jack Markell today signed a bill to provide state and local law enforcement with additional resources to fight violent crime. House Substitute 1 to House Bill 143 establishes The Fund to Combat Violent Crimes, ensuring that those who violate state law will contribute to reducing the cost of crime on their neighbors.
"The concept of this bill is simple: those who violate our laws should fund efforts to reduce violent crime in our state," said Governor Jack Markell. "Because the cost of crime is high, the price for those who commit crimes is now higher. This is about creating safe neighborhoods that allow Delawareans to enjoy a better quality of life. At the end of the day, our state is as strong as its communities."
During his 2011 State of the State address, the Governor committed to working closely with law enforcement professionals across the state to focus resources, including additional state troopers, on reducing gun crimes and other violent crimes. The bill is modeled in part on legislation proposed last session by the Delaware State Troopers Association (DSTA), and was drafted with extensive input from state and local police organizations. The bill was signed at the DSTA headquarters in Cheswold.
image: Governor Jack Markell
"This bill is the cornerstone of what we will be doing over the next several years," said Secretary Lew Schiliro of the Department for Safety and Homeland Security. "We will be doing three important things: adding state troopers to combat violent crime; developing programs with our municipal partners to reduce violent crime statewide and sharing more information and intelligence. This new law demonstrates the will of Delaware to fight violent crime. If you commit a violent crime in Delaware, we will come after you."
Funds will come from an additional penalty of $15 that will be charged to individuals convicted of crimes or offenses. The prime sponsor of House Bill 143, Representative Larry Mitchell, said that the additional revenue will provide a huge boost for law enforcement agencies.
"Like many government entities, local police departments have been facing cutbacks due to the economic downturn," said Mitchell, a retired New Castle County Police sergeant. "However, criminals don't cut back, so we have to do whatever we can to help law enforcement continue to protect our community. This fund will provide a financial lifeline to many local police agencies to help them fight and reduce violent crime without placing a burden on law-abiding taxpayers."
As a former State Trooper, Senator Bruce Ennis, said he is proud to be a joint sponsor of a bill that will help Delaware deal more effectively with crime.
One-half of the Fund (up to $2.125 million) will go to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security's efforts to fight violent crime. The other half (up to $2.125 million) will be administered by The Fund to Combat Violent Crimes Committee and distributed to local law enforcement agencies in connection with initiatives to reduce violent crime. The Committee will be comprised of the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security; the Superintendent of the Delaware State Police; the Attorney General; the President of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council; and the President of the Delaware State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, or their designees.
"We sat together in a room and talked about this bill and got to a place where everyone was comfortable with the outcome," said Chief Michael Capriglione, President of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council. "This is good for law enforcement and good for Delaware."