Bill to combat gang violence, protect victims moves forward
–This week, a bill authored by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) that would increase protections for victims and witnesses of gang-related crimes, passed through the public safety committee with bi-partisan support.
Jointly authored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D – Coachella), the bill combats a statewide increase in gang violence by empowering victims and witnesses to come forward with information. If passed, AB 2013 would withhold the names of victims and witnesses to gang-related offenses from public disclosure — giving them the ability to cooperate with law enforcement without fear of retaliation.
Cunningham stated, “With a statewide rise in gang-related crime, California must act to protect both victims and witnesses of gang crimes who want to cooperate with authorities, but fear retaliation. We should give victims and witnesses of gang crimes the same protections as victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.”
In 2016, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin estimated that gang members or associates were responsible for 60-70-percent of the city’s homicides. By protecting sensitive information, AB 2013 will help protect victims from retaliation and encourage them to bring forth information pertaining to gang-related crimes.
Supporters of the bill include the CA Police Chiefs Association, CA State Sheriffs’ Association, Crime Victims United of California, LA County Professional Peace Officers Association and Mothers & Men Against Gang Violence.