To prevent gang violence and enhance the overall safety of families and neighborhoods throughout California, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, has reached across the aisle to engage in several bipartisan policy efforts.

Earlier this year, Garcia and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, submitted a formal budget letter requesting for $9.2 million to reinstate funding for the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) program. The Governor’s current proposal eliminated allotments for this program.

Garcia Seeks Money to Combat Gangs

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia

“The California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention program has accumulated a proven track record of deterring and reducing youth violence and gang activity. Communities across our state have been able to tap into these resources and forge collaborative, strategic partnerships with local organizations to address root causes and create healthy sustainable systems,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “We owe it to California families to double down investments in their safety and well-being by giving our at-risk youth their best possible chance to succeed. The restoration of this funding is essential to further enhance the great work already in motion within our neighborhoods.”

The two assemblymembers are also collaborating on AB 2013; a measure that would offer further protections for victims of gang-related crimes and ensure their names remain confidential.

“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,” Cunningham said. “We should give victims and witnesses of all crimes, particularly gang crimes, the same protections as victims of sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Cunningham.

Garcia added that, “Victim confidentiality is paramount to building positive rapport with public safety officials and ensuring that victims feel safe bringing forward testimony in gang-related cases.”

Yulil Alonso-Garza, founder and president of the Mothers and Men Against Gangs Coalition (MAG Coalition), an Imperial County-based nonprofit, testified at recent committee hearings for AB 2013. “The MAG Coalition and the Garza family are extremely thankful to both Assemblymembers Cunningham and Garcia for allowing us this opportunity and for their joint bipartisan efforts to eradicate gang violence, Alonso-Garza said.

The local organization sponsored, Garcia’s ACR 134; designating the month of January as “Anti-Gang Awareness and Prevention Month” in the State of California.

“The spread of gang violence is preventable. All Californians have a role to play creating sustainable change within our own neighborhoods,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s AB 1262 would work to further impede gang activity within prone underserved areas by expanding the parameters of the California Gang, Crime, and Violence Prevention Partnership program to include the communities of Bakersfield, Brawley, Calexico, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Indio, Richmond, Salinas, Soledad, and Stockton.

This measure also gained bipartisan support to advance from the Assembly to the Senate.

“These additional cities have been identified as having significant juvenile gang problems and gang-related acts of violence. The inclusion of these communities into this prevention program will help reduce gangs, criminal activity, and youth violence,” Garcia said.

Garcia represents the 56th district, which is comprised of the cities and communities of Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.