TRENTON — The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee has approved a bill that would make it a crime to knowingly and actively participate in a criminal street gang.
The legislation was introduced following the release of a report by the New Jersey State Police, Gangs in New Jersey: Municipal Law Enforcement Response to the 2010 NJSP Gang Survey, which found that gang activity occurred in all 21 of the state’s counties and in more than 45% of the state’s municipalities.
“The gang report recently issued by the State Police shows that criminal street gangs can be found just about everywhere in New Jersey,” said state Sen. Sean T. Kean (R-Monmouth), a co-sponsor of the bill. “While many people think of street gangs as an urban problem, we know that suburban and rural areas are being targeted as well. Our legislation will help law enforcement to dismantle criminal street gangs wherever they operate in New Jersey.”
The measure, SCS for S-222, makes it a crime of the fourth degree to knowingly and actively participate in a criminal street gang and purposely promote, further or assist others participating in the criminal street gang in a number of offenses, including: robbery; carjacking; aggravated assault; aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault; arson; burglary; kidnapping; extortion; and tampering with witnesses and informants.
“This legislation will ensure that law enforcement has the ability to prosecute not just those who commit the actual crimes that we read about, but also those who provide the support within the gangs that allow those crimes to be committed,” said state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Mercer), a co-sponsor of the bill.
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