Keeping our communities safe from crime

Column by Bob Goodlatte

A recent statistic from the Department of Justice shows that someone is assaulted in the U.S. every 7.2 seconds, raped every 2.7 minutes and murdered every 31 minutes. These figures are truly disturbing and something must be done. That is why I joined my Republican colleagues from the House Judiciary Committee in supporting a bold legislative package aimed at protecting innocent Americans from crimes, such as gang violence, drug trafficking and child pornography.

The first key component of our legislative package is the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act, or “The Gangbusters Bill,” which will encourage partnerships across all levels of government to combat the growth of gang activity in our nation.

Gang membership has escalated to approximately 850,000 with 25,000 gangs operating in communities all across the country. Gang activity has been directly linked to the proliferation of illegal drugs, human trafficking, identification document falsification, violent maiming and assault, and the use of firearms to commit shootings and murders. Gang violence and activity is no longer confined to big cities; it has already spread to smaller cities and rural areas, such as the Shenandoah Valley, Roanoke and Lynchburg.

The Gangbusters Bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly last Congress only to stall in the Senate, authorizes increased funding to support federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts against violent gangs and coordinate agencies’ efforts to share intelligence and jointly investigate gangs. It also increases the penalties for violations. Most of these gangs have many illegal immigrants as members and cracking down on illegal immigration and strongly enforcing our immigration laws is also badly needed in the fight against gang violence.

In addition to fighting gang activity, this important initiative includes legislation to increase the criminal penalties for trafficking drugs, such as methamphetamine, commonly known as “meth.”

Meth is a serious and growing problem. The ease with which meth can be produced from common household items and its highly addictive nature have led to the rapid proliferation of meth labs across the United States, including our region.

The Methamphetamine Kingpin Elimination Act increases penalties for drug kingpin offenses and authorizes additional funding for multi-jurisdictional meth task forces, bringing together law enforcement officials from all levels of government.

Just last week we marked ‘National Crime Victims Rights’ Week’, which is designated to strengthen the rights of crime victims and their families. It is appropriate as we observe this week dedicated to crime victims and the challenges they face, that we renew our commitment to reducing violent crimes and protecting our neighborhoods from gang violence and illegal drugs. I will continue working to give law enforcement officers and prosecutors the tools they need to fight crime and keep our communities safe.

 

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the United States Congress. Contact him at www.house.gov/goodlatte/emailbob.htm.



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