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Gillibrand seeks $1.2B to combat gangs, narcotics

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Friday she would push to pass a bill allocating more than $1.2 billion to law enforcement and education programs to combat gangs and narcotics.

While the bulk of the money would come through an expansive anti-gang bill long stalled in committee, Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she also would work in the coming months to secure an additional $2.75 million for anti-gang and heroin efforts on Long Island.

"With local law enforcement budgets squeezed in this very difficult economy, it has never been more difficult to crack down on drug dealers and gang activity," she said Friday in Hempstead Village.

"What we do need is resources and not only resources to continue our efforts on the enforcement front . . . but I'm pleased to see in this legislation resources for prevention and education," said Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, one of more than a dozen police and school officials at attendance.

If passed, the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act would stiffen penalties for gang-related drug trafficking and increase funding for education programs, among other initiates. The funds would also target drug interdiction where it enters the New York heroin market by increasing funding to the FBI and other agencies involved with anti-gang efforts, Gillibrand said. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been stalled in committee since January 2009.

Despite the sagging economy, Gillibrand called the goal of securing the money "realistic."

"I think when you're looking at priorities, and trying to choose what you're going to fund first, this is among the highest in everyone's mind," she said.

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