Federal Officials Announce Anti-Gang Efforts For Md., $50K for Chas. County

$1.5 Million in Anti-Gang Grants Awarded; Charles County Receives $50,000; New State-Wide Gang Intelligence Database Announced

BALTIMORE - The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced awards of more than $1.5 million to local jurisdictions and organizations in Maryland to combat gangs and gang violence in local neighborhoods, communities and schools, announced U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. Programs throughout the state will receive funding for prevention, intervention and suppression strategies. This federal funding program for gang prevention strategies was announced earlier this year at a press conference held at the U.S. Attorney’s Office with Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) applauded U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein’s grant announcements. They are a part of the $2 million she helped secure for a statewide anti-gang initiative.

“This statewide anti-gang initiative addresses a growing gang crisis in our neighborhoods that is destroying lives and destroying communities,” said Senator Mikulski. “We need to take a comprehensive look at the gang problem that focuses on prevention, intervention and enforcement.”

The federal funding supports the U.S. Attorney’s Office in its coordination of local, state and federal law enforcement, and will pay for prosecutorial and anti-gang programs in the Baltimore metro area and throughout Maryland. This initiative will create a more efficient and effective approach to help communities combat gang activity.

In addition to coordinating gang intervention and prevention efforts, the funding has also allowed the U.S. Attorney’s Office to increase the prosecution of gangs and gang-related crime, support existing programs with proven track records in intervention and prevention efforts, and solicit grant proposals to solve gang-related problems that are not currently being addressed.

“No one can do it alone, that’s why I fought in the Senate to create a federal partnership,” said Senator Mikulski. “We need to continue our work to protect neighborhoods and families – that means safer streets and safer communities. I am proud to have fought for this federal investment and will continue to do all I can to make our communities safer.”

Authorities also announced today that a new state-wide law enforcement database, known as Gang-Net, will be implemented in Maryland. The Gang-Net database, overseen by the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, http://www.hidta.org/, will allow local, state and federal law enforcement officials to share data on gang activities.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “Coordinated and comprehensive strategies are essential to deter gang violence, but law enforcement alone cannot prevent gang violence. We also need statewide intervention and prevention programs to rescue kids who have joined gangs and to prevent others from joining in the first place.”

Mr. Rosenstein added, “Gang-Net, a planned state-wide database to centralize intelligence about gangs, will be a valuable tool. It will allow law enforcement officers to identify gang members and enable us to better understand and respond to gang problems.”

After consulting with state and local partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office held a statewide Gang Summit on June 1, 2006, which helped identify the gang problem in Maryland, and focused on prevention, intervention and suppression strategies. At the conference, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its intention to use the funding to make grants to government entities and non-profit organizations across the state that are actively involved in combating and preventing gangs.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office developed a three-part plan to distribute the anti-gang money: one half would be distributed through a competitive process based on a collaborative strategy developed by each jurisdiction; one quarter would be awarded on a discretionary and non-competitive basis to support existing prevention and intervention programs or statewide efforts; and one quarter would be used for witness protection, translation services, training and other law enforcement functions.

The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) provided planning grants to each jurisdiction in Maryland to assess the local gang problem and develop a strategy to deal with it. The U.S. Attorney’s Office then held regional informational sessions around the state to provide guidance about how best to put together an effective proposal.

Fourteen Maryland jurisdictions submitted applications detailing their collaborative strategies to deal with local gang problems. A panel of subject matter experts from the Police Foundation, GOCCP, Hawkins Funding Development Group; Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute; Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA); and the U.S. Attorney’s Office evaluated and rated each proposal. At a meeting held on November 28, 2006, all members discussed the strategy, budget and objectives of each proposal, and rated the proposals.

In addition, discretionary grants were made to support existing prevention and intervention programs or statewide efforts addressing areas facing significant gang challenges.

The maximum length of time of the programs funded by the awards in both categories is 12 to 18 months, beginning in January, 2007.

The awards announced today are only one source of funding for anti-gang strategies. Other federal and state sources are also available. Coordinating the various sources of funding provides the most advantageous use of all available funds.

Charles County Sheriff’s Office was the only agency in southern Maryland to receive funds from this program. $50,000.00 was awarded to provide funding for after-school based activities and mentor-based programming, and for professional intervention services for high-risk youth.

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