Attorney General’s Office to make the case for protections for vulnerable communities
OLYMPIA – Lawmakers are in town getting a jump on the 2011 legislative session, and the Attorney General’s Office has been granted an important opportunity to pitch a bill to reduce gang violence.
The House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee holds a work-session Friday where they’ll consider the Attorney General’s proposals to help kids avoid or drop out of gangs, as well as new civil and criminal tools for reducing overall violence.
“Gang violence is on the rise in Washington, impacting young people from Yakima to Seattle and Spokane to Tacoma,” said Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. “As a 25-year police detective, Rep. Christopher Hurst is a leader in the area of community safety and he understands how important it is to address this problem before more young people are harmed. We’re grateful that he’s provided this opportunity to further address gang violence.”
Hurst, D-Enumclaw, has worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office on gang violence and other issues. In 2008, he sponsored HB 2712, which officially defines street gangs for the purposes of prosecution and called for a statewide database for information on gangs. Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, another close ally on gang issues, sits on the committee, as well. Rep. Ross co-sponsored HB 2712 and has sponsored several other bills to reduce gang violence.
On Friday, Attorney General’s Office Policy Director Chris Johnson will speak to Hurst’s committee about the AGO’s new gang bill and receive feedback about the committee’s preferences for what provisions have the best chance of passing during a busy legislative season.
“In some cities, gang members are responsible for the majority of violent crime,” Johnson said. “When a 10-year-old Seattle gang member receives a gunshot wound, when there are shootings in broad daylight in busy downtown areas, it’s clear we have a problem. I look forward to speaking with the committee about what prosecutors, police and community activists have recommended we do about it.”
Attorney General McKenna announced his proposals last month. His suggested legislation offers a mix of prevention, intervention and prosecution measures to reduce gang violence.
Friday’s meeting will take place at 8 a.m. in House Hearing Room E at the John L. O'Brien Building at the State Capitol.
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725