(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she included $500,000 for important youth violence prevention efforts in Seattle and King County in the Fiscal Year 2011 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill that was approved today by the Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee. The bill contains $100,000 for the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI) and $400,000 for the King County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intervention Initiative. 

“Investing in safer neighborhoods will help teenagers in Seattle and King County make the important connections they need to succeed in school and life and stay out of violent gangs and the criminal justice system,” said Senator Murray. “We will only be successful in decreasing gang activity and youth violence in our cities if we reach out to the at-risk youth who are most vulnerable. I’m committed to making sure the community has the resources they need to offer that helping hand.”

Gangs pose a growing threat in Seattle and King County and both have experienced rising gang activity over the past year.  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. 

These programs are proven responses to violence and gang activity that threaten public safety and our children’s future.  The SYVPI targets communities in the southeast, southwest, and central areas of Seattle with higher concentrations of youth violence than other areas of the City and brings together a coalition of law enforcement, mentors, churches, schools, social services providers and community leaders to provide prevention services for at-risk youth.  The SYVPI will enhance safety for these families and increase the likelihood that their youth will finish school, engage in positive activities, and become contributing members of their communities. 

The King County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intervention Initiative includes a new comprehensive Gang Intervention and Juvenile Detention Diversion Program.  The Gang Intervention Initiative is intended to prevent juvenile gang activity through intervention, mentoring, education, and enforcement.  Through a collaborative approach, this program will leverage and coordinate the expertise and resources of the King County Sheriff’s Office, county government, the courts, non-profit organizations, and the community to address the challenges of gangs and juvenile delinquency in a proactive and comprehensive manner.  Senator Murray has been a long-time supporter of gang prevention efforts in King County and recently was the keynote speaker at the King County Sheriff's Police Activities League event that also featured Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna and Tina Hendrix, the director of the Hendrix Music Academy.