Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Senator Menendez released the following statement on addressing the issue of gang violence and recruitment in New Jersey's communities. Monday they held an event with community leaders including New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill and Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith about the anti-gang legislation and crime issues.
"It is an unfortunate reality that gangs are present in both our larger and smaller communities across New Jersey -- this is a serious problem that we must address before it takes even more of our young people from us. Today's event was an important step in our greater effort to address this issue. Combating gang violence and recruitment will require a partnership between law enforcement, school systems, and communities as well as support at the federal level.
"We are working on updating and introducing legislation in both the House and Senate that confronts the problems we've seen with gangs in our communities. Today's meeting will help us do so, with critical input from community leaders who see the gang problem from the ground level. We cannot rely entirely on law enforcement as we have in the past, we also need to do our part to prevent kids from joining gangs in the first place. That is why our bill will invest in innovative approaches to prevention, economic empowerment, suppression and community anti-gang initiatives, as well as punishment and improved crime data.
"We need to keep families intact and fight this battle from every angle possible, until we can eliminate gang involvement in our communities."