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Gangs Bill Moves Forward in Senate

January 26, 2010

Gangs Bill Moves Forward in Senate

by Elizabeth Ziegler

(KCPW News) The first bill in line to pass out of the Utah Senate this legislative session is an anti-gang proposal that died last year when lawmakers ran out of time. It’s just one of several Senator Jon Greiner, who is also Ogden’s police chief, plans to introduce after successfully carrying four in 2009, including a controversial law prohibiting gang members from loitering in certain places. But have these new anti-gang laws been working?

“Haven’t had a gang-related homicide in two years. So that kind of goes to the heart of putting people on notice that the community is just not going to tolerate it and that’s where we want to be,” Greiner says. “So nothing serves us better than having them talk amongst themselves saying you know if you do that, there’s an enhanced penalty. I think they’re going to get the message.”

Senate Bill 10, Criminal Offense Penalties Amendments, creates an enhanced penalty when two gang members commit a crime together. It also makes it easier for juvenile gang members to stand trial as adults and allows gang crimes to be considered criminal nuisances.

The bill passed its first Senate vote unanimously on Monday. Still, Greiner says its future is uncertain, because it would cost more than $51,000 to implement next year, and the budget is tight.
“So we’re addressing the fiscal note up front so that it has a better chance of getting it through the process. It’s a committee bill, it’s been debated; we understand the issues,” Greiner says. “I think by lowering the fiscal note to zero fiscal note we have a better chance of getting it through in a bad economic year.”

The bill still faces a second vote in the Senate before it moves to the House for consideration. Greiner also plans to introduce a bill that would allow police to prevent gang members from associating with each other.

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