Utah’s Legislature Addresses Gang Activity

by Senator Luz Robles
Senate Minority Caucus Manager
Senate District One

In a ceremony Monday, April 19, Governor Gary Herbert signed ceremonial copies of SJR 2, Joint Resolution on Combating and Reducing Gang Activity, and SB 59, At-risk Student Provisions, which I sponsored during the 2010 Legislative Session.

Senator Luz RoblesGangs are a problem affecting all Utahns.  We can no longer ignore their presence and actions against our communities, and more importantly, their actions against our children who have become prey for many of these groups.  Our children are the future of this state and our nation, and we cannot lose them to this type of activity.

For the past two years, I have been working with various partners and stakeholders in the community to bring solutions to this problem.  Prevention and intervention, not just suppression, are my priorities.

Senate Joint Resolution 2 is a resolution that urges state and local governments to take a comprehensive, collaborative, and communitywide approach to combat and reduce gang activity.  The resolution acknowledges sports, arts, academic, targeted counseling, and employment programs as vehicles to counter gang recruitment.  It is a call to action where all can be involved and ask for collaborative efforts amongst all levels and branches of government to stop gang activity.

Senate Bill 59 requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules that require a local school board or governing board of a charter school to enact gang prevention and intervention policies.

The effort to prevent, intervene, and eliminate gang-related activity in our community is a bipartisan effort.  I want to personally thank the House sponsors of these pieces of legislation, my colleagues from the majority party Representative Ryan Wilcox for SJR 2 and Representative Paul Ray for SB 59.  Without their leadership and commitment, these bills will not be law today.

It is going to require a more comprehensive and holistic effort to reduce the crime and the involvement of our youth in these activities and more awareness from all of us.  I am looking forward to continuing our work toward the ultimate goal of having a community free of gangs.

I want to thank the members of the state Gang Task Force for their work and support.

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