A bipartisan group of Washington state lawmakers who have spent the better part of a year studying gangs are preparing a package of bills to create a statewide gang database and providing $10 million for programs that aim to keep children from joining gangs, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer. “It’s tough on crime, but more importantly, it’s smart on crime and gangs,” said a sponsor, Rep. Christopher Hurst.
Police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and social-service providers joined to work on the package after a push last year to enact tougher penalties for gang-related crimes. “The whole group recognizes that we’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem with gangs. It really takes a coordinated effort,” said Lt. Ron Wilson, supervisor of the Seattle Police Department Gang Unit. A key result of their effort was reaching a common definition of a gang and a gang member, something that now can vary widely from city to city. The group recommends defining criminal street gangs as “any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, having as one of its primary activities the commission of criminal acts, and whose members or associates individually or collectively engage  in a pattern of criminal street gang activity.”