July 17, 2017
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) has introduced legislation to establish a grant program that will provide resources to state and local entities working to curb the rise in gang activity in Northern Virginia.
There has been a marked rise in transnational gang activity in Northern Virginia from gangs such as MS-13. Since November, at least eight murders have been committed and tied to MS-13 and other gangs, representing a 166 percent increase over last year, according to Comstock’s office.
The act, H.R. 3249 — the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act — authorizes $70 million annually for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2020.
Twenty percent of the $70 million would go directly to already-established gang task forces, like the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.
Jay Lanham, executive director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, commented on the proposal.
“Criminal gangs pose a serious threat to our communities and financial support is immediately needed to address their illegal activities,” Lanham said in a prepared statement. “In order to continue to proactively address the mobile and changing nature of gang violence and crime, the Task Force and its member jurisdictions urgently need this funding to address the violent street gangs that are present in the Northern Virginia Region through suppression, intervention and prevention efforts.”
Comstock said the new grant program authorization act would help steer federal funding toward front-line regional gang task forces like the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force so they can continue working to remove MS-13 and other gang members off the streets.
“Recently, I went on a ride-along with the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force where I saw firsthand the MS-13 gang problem in our community. In just one night, the Task Force removed four suspected MS-13 gang members off the streets. There is an estimated 4,000 gang members from MS-13 and other gangs in the Northern Virginia region,” Comstock said.
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