Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) introduced H.R. 3249 the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act, which would establish a grant program to provide resources to state and local entities to curb the rise in gang activity and violence. This legislation authorizes $70 million annually for FY2018 through FY2022. Twenty percent of the authorized $70 million will go directly to already-established gang task forces, like the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, who are experiencing elevated transnational gang activity from gangs such as MS-13.
“The Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force works in many communities throughout our region by direct engaging in enforcement, prevention, and educational programs to keep our communities safe from gangs,” said Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. “The Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act will help steer federal funding toward frontline regional gang task forces like the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force. 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 three suspected MS-13 gang members off of the streets. There is an estimated 4,000 gang members from MS-13 and other gangs in the Northern Virginia region. Over the last six months, at least eight murders have been committed and tied to MS-13 and other gangs, representing a 166% increase over last year. The Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act will provide vital resources to established regional gang task forces like the one we have here in Northern Virginia so that these brave men and women can get MS-13 off of our streets.”
“On behalf of the Northern Virginia Police Chiefs, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for Congresswoman Comstock’s support of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force,” said Jay Lanham, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force. “Criminal gangs pose a serious threat to our communities and financial support is immediately needed to address their illegal activities. 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.”
Last week, Congresswoman Comstock secured legislative language to fight MS-13 and other gangs in the report accompanying the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The language urges the Department of Justice to prioritize grant funding for existing Regional Gang Task Forces, such as the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.