Sen. Robert I. Marshall on Wednesday offered a four-pronged package aimed at reducing violence in Wilmington and around the state.
During a press conference at the now-shuttered Jackson Street Boys and Girls Club, Marshall, D-Wilmington West, said the crime issues facing Wilmington are multi-faceted and, because of that, a range of responses are needed.
“There are too many guns on our streets, violent offenders facing multiple charges who are roaming our streets on bail, a lack of safe havens to keep youngsters off the street and provide them opportunities to grow and there is the continuing problem of unemployment – especially among blue collar workers,” Marshall said. “We need to address Wilmington’s issues on multiple fronts, which is why I am offering four ideas to address the challenge before us.”
During a press conference Marshall announced he will:
• Introduce Senate Bill 18, the second part of a constitutional amendment which would allow judges to deny bail for a range of violent offenders for up to 120 days and companion bill to be developed by Attorney General Matt Denn’s office to that will provide the legal framework to make the amendment work.
• Re-introduce Senate Bill 19, a measure allowing local police to operate gun buyback programs and use proceeds to help fund undercover operations to break up illegal gun sales. Marshall’s 2011 gun buyback program resulted in more than 2,000 guns being taken out of circulation.
• Renew his urgent request that Denn use $400,000 from the state’s $36 million share of the national finance settlement to reopen the Jackson Street Boys and Girls Club.
• Use a portion of the state’s Strategic Fund to set up a matching grant program local governments could tap for needed infrastructure work. Under Marshall’s proposal, the state would put up 75 percent of the funding for projects with local government supplying the balance.
Marshall said reopening Boys and Girls Club and funding public improvements are important tools in fighting crime.
“By reopening the club, we can provide afterschool educational and recreational programs that help create hope that there is life beyond the street for our young people,” Marshall said. “Investing in public works not only provides needed repairs and improvements, but it also puts people back to work in good-paying jobs, which is one of the most effective crime deterrent strategies I can think of.”
State Rep. John L. “Larry” Mitchell, D-Elsmere, is teaming up with Marshall on the Constitutional Amendment and gun buyback legislation. He said the buyback program has the potential to help police fight gun crime.
“The ability to run a firearms recovery program is another tool our local police agencies can choose to employ in their communities, should they deem it necessary and prudent,” said Mitchell, D-Elsmere, who chairs the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. “I believe it’s our responsibility to give local law enforcement all the tools they could need to make their communities safer, and this legislation is part of that. That’s why I co-sponsored it last session and that’s why I agreed to co-sponsor it again.”