SACRAMENTO – Alarmed by escalating violence, California lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen anti-gang bills to help law enforcement crack down on what some call a form of urban terrorism. Republican legislators, who will publicly detail their proposals at a press conference in Sacramento today, have proposed measures that include increasing prison terms for gang-related crimes. Democrats, meanwhile, have introduced bills that include creating a statewide anti-gang coordinator. “The No. 1 role and responsibility of government is to keep its people safe,” said Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, one of the lead authors of the Republican package. “If people aren’t safe, then none of the other things we do for them is important.” Gang violence has surged recently in Los Angeles and other urban areas in the state. Gang-related crimes increased by at least 14 percent in Los Angeles last year and by 44 percent in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles has an estimated 40,000 gang members, including about 11,000 in the Valley. Currently, some gang members are required to register once with police when they are released, but there is little follow-up or monitoring, Harman said. Harman compared gang violence to a form of urban terrorism. “We need to have a declaration of war on this,” Harman said. “Everybody has to work together – prosecutors, law enforcement, legislators.” On the Democratic side, Assemblywoman Nell Soto, D-Ontario, has proposed creating a California Gang Prevention Director within the state Department of Justice to help coordinate statewide efforts. Assemblywoman Mary Salas, D-Chula Vista, has proposed establishing a statewide commission to create a strategy on gang violence prevention and intervention. Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles, has proposed a bill to put new requirements on the tracking of ammunition. DeLeon said he is skeptical of the Republican focus on increasing sentences, saying there is little evidence that shows longer sentences deter gang violence. Instead, he said, the state should look at preventing the root causes of crime. That includes prevention programs and improving the state educational system. “The bottom line is this: There is no better public-safety program or social program than a good job,” DeLeon said. “And a good job requires a good education.” [email protected] (916) 446-6723 California gang legislation SB 657 by Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster: Would stiffen sentences for gang crimes and provide new resources for law enforcement. SB 846 and AB 1630 by, respectively, Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster: Would require convicted gang members to register annually with local police instead of only when they’re released from prison. AB 301 by Assemblywoman Nell Soto, D-Ontario: Would create position within Department of Justice to coordinate anti-gang efforts statewide. AB 802 by Assemblywoman Mary Salas, D-Chula Vista: Would establish a state Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention. AB 894 by Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi, D-Lodi: Would lengthen prison time for serious gang-related felonies. AB 1394 by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, D-Glendale: Would require Department of Justice to study intellectual property crimes and investigate link with organized crime, including street gangs. SB 550 by Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield: Would expand existing law imposing additional penalties for gang crimes committed within 1,000 feet of a school to include those committed near public or private parks. SOURCE: Daily News Research160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called for a new statewide program to fight gangs, which would provide at least $30 million to Los Angeles. Earlier this month, Villaraigosa pitched the idea to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was supportive. Among Republican measures, Runner would like to expand the use of global positioning system monitors for gang members who have been released from prison. Runner is co-author of Jessica’s Law, the ballot measure approved by voters last year that mandated lifetime GPS monitoring of convicted sex offenders. Some counties, such as San Bernardino, already have limited-monitoring programs, but Runner said he would like to provide the resources and legislation to encourage more communities to consider them. Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, has proposed legislation that would expand the requirements for gang members to register with local police after being released from prison.