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Attorney General Bill McCollum Press Release
Attorney General McCollum Launches Gang Reduction Strategy Summit
~Federal, state and local leadership share information and focus on solutions ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Bringing together federal, state and local expertise Attorney General Bill McCollum today launched a two-day Gang Reduction Strategy Summit in Tallahassee. Designed to obtain input from stakeholders and other interested parties across the state, the summit is the next step in developing Florida’s Statewide Gang Reduction Strategy.
“Our goal over the next two days is to hear from members of our communities in order to have a better understanding of the gang-related problems around our state, to learn about local efforts and initiatives that have been successful, and to receive advice and recommendations for developing an effective statewide strategy,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum. “Ultimately, the implementation of the strategy will be a grassroots effort and the participation of our community stakeholders at this stage is critical.”
Opening the summit, Attorney General McCollum welcomed the members of his Executive Group and participants attending from across Florida and emphasized the need for statewide cooperation in developing and implementing a gang reduction strategy. The Attorney General stressed the importance of input from local agencies and organizations that are impacted by gangs and gang-related violence in their local jurisdictions.
"The NAACP abhors criminal gang activity and especially those who prey on and operate in our neighborhoods and communities," said Dale Landry, Chair of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Committee, Florida State Conference NAACP. "Likewise, the NAACP believes solutions designed to overcome criminal gang activities and the threats to these neighborhoods and communities require collaborative partnerships. These partnerships must include local government, criminal and juvenile justice agencies, schools, businesses, faith institutions, and most importantly, the residents (youth and adults) of neighborhoods and communities impacted by criminal gangs and we acknowledge Attorney General McCollum’s initial efforts in addressing this problem that jeopardizes the safety for all Floridians.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, Florida experienced more growth in gang activity over a twenty-five year period than any other state in the nation. These statistics underscore the importance of the cooperative strategy. Members of federal, state and local law enforcement have fully supported the Attorney General’s efforts and many representatives from around the state traveled to Tallahassee to attend.
"Stopping gang activity is a collaborative effort," said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. "We've laid the foundation and we're already starting to see focused, cooperative and highly effective initiatives."
Statewide participants represented many areas of Florida’s communities including law enforcement, education, criminal justice, intervention, prevention, and the court system. Six discussion groups will be held throughout the summit on the following topics:
· Risk-based Prevention
· Gang Suppression and Deterrence
· Prosecution and Criminal Justice Enhancements
· Rehabilitation and Reentry
· Community Resources, Infrastructure and Implementation
The goal of the discussion groups is to use the expertise and experiences of the participants to create a foundation for the Statewide Gang Reduction Strategy to reduce the criminal gangs comprised of youth 24 years of age and younger. Attorney General McCollum has stated that without a comprehensive, coordinated statewide effort, this growing activity will translate into a much larger threat to the State of Florida and its communities for years to come.
Previously gathered information has confirmed that Florida gangs traffic illegal drugs throughout Florida’s communities; are involved in an increasing number of violent crimes utilizing firearms; and commit a large number of personal and property crimes. The statewide gang reduction strategy will address the critical issues concerning gang membership identification, gang recruitment, risk factors for youth, prevention, crime suppression and post conviction or adjudication diversion.
“Florida’s concerted effort to defeat criminal gangs is timely. The Gang Reduction Strategy is right on target,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary James McDonough. “The Department will do its part. We will disperse all gang members we receive in our prisons, deny them a base of operations or any chance to network, and take disciplinary action whenever any of them seek to continue gang-like behavior.”
The long-range plan will include gang suppression and deterrence techniques; prosecution and criminal justice system enhancements; prevention and intervention; data and intelligence sharing; education and training; and rehabilitation and reentry efforts for former gang members.
Members of the Executive Group include the following individuals:
· Commissioner Gerald Bailey, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
· Commissioner Eric Smith, Department of Education
· Secretary Robert Butterworth, Department of Children and Families
· Secretary James McDonough, Department of Corrections
· Secretary Walter McNeil, Department of Juvenile Justice
· Colonel Bill Janes, Office of Drug Control Director
· Electra Bustle, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Director
· Colonel John Czernis, Florida Highway Patrol Director
· Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson, Florida Sheriffs Association President
· Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell
· Juno Beach Police Chief H.C. “Skip” Clark II, Florida Police Chiefs Association President
· State Attorney Willie Meggs, of the 2nd Judicial Circuit
· Chief Noland McLeod, Auburndale Police Department