(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that the $500,000 she included in a 2010 spending bill for the Pierce County Regional Gang Prevention Partnership has passed the full Senate.  The Pierce County gang partnership focuses on at-risk youth who are exposed to or engaged in crime, aiming to help them before they fall into a life-long pattern of criminal behavior.

"This funding will protect our families from gang violence and improve the quality of life throughout Pierce County," said Senator Patty Murray. "By providing at-risk youth with the skills and opportunities they need to change their lives, we not only give our young people the chance they deserve to succeed, but we also create safer streets and stronger communities."

The Pierce County Regional Gang Prevention Partnership brings together a team of prevention specialists, police, prosecutors, schools, and health- and community-based organizations to work collaboratively throughout the region.  Using their combined expertise, they identify services that can help youth and families who are impacted by drugs, violence and gang-related issues.

“The regional partnership for gang prevention is a powerful alliance that builds networks so our youth can truly have a chance for a healthy and safe lifestyle,” said Priscilla Lisicich, Executive Director of Safe Streets Campaign in Tacoma. “This funding, so generously supported by our congressional delegation, gives us resources to work together collaboratively and provide critical services to gang impacted youth and families, thereby creating positive futures for hundreds of youth.”

Gang-related violence has been a growing problem in Washington state in recent years, and with local budgets now facing large cuts, law enforcement agencies are expressing concern that it may become even more difficult for them to fight this emerging source of crime.  The 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment indicates increased gang activity in the Pacific Northwest and reports that in some communities gangs are responsible for as much as eighty percent of all violent crime.

Senator Murray helped introduce major legislation that would provide more than $1 billion for gang prevention across the nation.

The funding was included in the fiscal year 2010 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, which passed the Senate today by a vote of 71-28. Senator Murray is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.