As violent crime sweeps the nation, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) are introducing the Gang Activity Reporting Act. The bipartisan bill requires the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI to resume regular reporting on criminal gang trends across the country that it previously provided to Congress, but discontinued in 2009 and 2012.
“To best combat violent crime, Congress must have a clear picture of membership trends and activity of criminal gangs, who are responsible for nearly half of all violent crime. Unfortunately, information sharing on gangs in the past decade has largely dried up or is so delayed that it’s less useful. Our commonsense legislation revives data collection and reporting by the Justice Department, FBI and their law enforcement partners to empower Congress to make informed and timely decisions to keep our communities safe,” Grassley said.
“As communities across the country grapple with a rise in violent crime, we must find ways to reverse this dangerous trend. We know that gangs are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime in the United States. By requiring a comprehensive federal report on gang membership data and trends, we can better understand how gangs are contributing to this violent crime and then take the right steps to support law enforcement and strengthen public safety,” Rosen said.
While the Justice Department and FBI have established units to address criminal gang activity, critical data is no longer regularly collected and shared with Congress or the public. The FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment stopped reporting estimated gang memberships after 2009. The Justice Department’s National Gang Center (NGC) stopped reporting the quantity and memberships of gangs in 2012. The NGC’s 2020 threat assessment was only shared with Congress in June, and lacks critical metrics on gang activity. The NGC’s National Youth Gang Survey stopped reporting in 2012, and the last Attorney General’s report to Congress on the growth of violent street gangs in Suburban Areas was submitted in 2008.
The Gang Activity Reporting Act establishes an annual report from the Justice Dept. on activity of local, national and transnational criminal gangs, including aggregate data on membership, enterprises, methods and networks supporting criminal activity and arrest statistics. It also requires the FBI to detail its work to track gang activity and prosecute related criminal activity, as well as resources expended to combat and respond to gang-related crime.
The bill is supported by several law enforcement organizations, including the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the National Association of Police Officers and the Major County Sheriff’s Association.
“Accurate, consistent, and reliable data is critical for ensuring U.S. Attorney’s Offices are appropriately allocating resources to the highest risk crimes. As violent crime continues to rise nationwide, this legislation will ensure both Congress and the Justice Department are empowered with the necessary information about gang activity to actively address violent crime. This will enhance investigations and strengthen prosecutions. We thank Senator Grassley and Senator Rosen for leading on this issue for our communities,” NAAUSA President Steve Wasserman said.
“The NSA supports Senator Grassley’s bill to gather data on gangs and their illicit, dangerous activities. With a clearer look into gang data, we can prepare faster targeted and more muscular responses by law enforcement,” said Sheriff William Bohnyak, National Sheriffs’ Association President, Sheriff Orange County Vermont.
“Violent crime continues to surge, led in part by transnational gang organizations bringing drugs and violence into our communities. Data on this gang activity is necessary to ensure law enforcement can properly allocate resources, assess risks, and target our efforts. When law enforcement walk into situations without the proper data, it creates a riskier environment for everyone involved. We applaud Senators Grassley and Rosen for requiring law enforcement agencies coordinate, report, and retain better data on gang activity to ensure law enforcement on the front line can act effectively to maintain public safety in our communities and track the progress of their efforts,” FLEOA President Larry Cosme said.
“PORAC is proud to support Senator Grassley’s new legislation, which will require the Department of Justice to provide annual reporting on gang activity. As violent crime continues to surge in this country, it is crucial that we have the accurate and up-to-date information needed to adequately address this growing issue and protect our communities,” said PORAC President Brian Marvel.