ELIZABETH – Public school officials hope that a new law which requires municipalities to report gang activity to the state police will help improve public safety.
The new law “will help to improve the way we fight gang activities” and “improve safety for our children,” according to school board member Francisco Gonzalez.
The legislation to improve data collection techniques, sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson and state Senator Ron Rice, was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
The measure (A-3264/S-1537) requires that information contained in gang related incident offense reports be forwarded to the Superintendent of State Police and included in the Uniform Crime Report.
“It requires that cities acknowledge that they have a gang problem, requiring them to report the data to the appropriate authorities at once,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Carlos Trujillo.
Mayor Chris Bollwage has said that Elizabeth does not have a gang problem.
Trujillo said, “Our district has been in close contact with the Union County Prosecutors Office to discuss ways we can bring the City of Elizabeth to the table on this very issue. We support the Prosecutors efforts in requiring the Elizabeth Police to properly report this vital crime data to the public.”
Meetings between the Elizabeth Board of Education and the Union County Prosecutors Office have been held to find ways to improve security in the school district and city as a whole.
Even though local police departments are already required to submit quarterly reports to the Attorney General, it is important that the public be aware of all crimes being committed in their municipalities school officials said.
“This isn’t just a school problem. This is a community problem. We need to work together as a community to fight gang activity as it is impacting our children and the very city they live in,” Gonzalez said. “Addressing the problem with hard facts and accurate data is the first place to start.”
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