The Cleveland area will get $2.75 million from the Justice Department to help fight street gangs, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said yesterday in a visit to the area. Most of the money – $2.5 million – will be spent over three years and focus on prevention, law enforcement, and prisoner re-entry. $250,000 will pay for six suburban police officers to work in schools. “It gives the children a law enforcement officer they can call 24/7,” said U.S. Marshal Peter Elliot. “It helps break down stereotypes and distrust of law enforcement.” In Cleveland, more than 90 gangs are involved in drug dealing and violence. The gangs are no longer nationally organized, like the Crips and Bloods. Instead, they are looser groups hanging on the streets.
Cleveland was selected for federal aid along with Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Tampa, Dallas, and the corridor in Pennsylvania between Lancaster and Easton. Gonzales said those cities were chosen because the government felt the money would have the most impact there. “These are gangs who are involved in very serious crime,” Gonzales said. “They are robbing our youth of productive futures.”