WA Lawmakers Push for Stronger Gang Violence Laws
WASHINGTON - Washington state lawmakers are trying to reduce gang violence by creating stronger laws.
The Senate voted unanimously to approve a bill introduced by Republican Senator Jim Clements from the 14th district. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
A number of Tri-Cities police said they applaud the effort and said gangs usually bring drugs and violence to the community.
Richland Corporal Mike Harrison said the gang culture promotes violence, burglaries, car prowls, drug use and all kinds of negative behaviors.
Lawmakers want to increase sentencing for gang related crimes.
Friday night Richland police arrested a group of suspected gang members at an apartment on Stevens Drive. Police found guns, drugs, pipes and other weapons while doing a search of the apartment.
Harrison said, "The laws could probably be tightened up a bit, so those people that choose to live a life of crime would know they'll face tough penalties."
Lawmakers want to form a statewide group made up of prosecutors, municipal attorneys, judges, police, prison administrators and gang experts to think of ways to fight gang-related crimes.
They also want to form a statewide database with information about known gang members.
Harrison said, "Our ultimate goal is simply for people to quit committing crime, but if they do commit crimes we want the tools available to effectively deal with them so we can protect the community."