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Sen. Hershman’s Bill to Combat School Gang Activity Approved by Full Senate, Moves to House of Representatives

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 25, 2013) — A bill to help law enforcement officers and educators collaborate to keep gang activity out of Indiana schools passed the full Senate today by a 50-0 vote.

State Sen. Brandt Hershman’s (R-Buck Creek) Senate Bill 352 allows the Indiana Safe Schools Fund to be used to provide educational outreach and training to school personnel concerning the identification and prevention of criminal gang activity.

“I am very pleased to have the Senate’s support for this bill,” Hershman said. “It will enable educators and law enforcement officials to address shifting trends in gang activity.”

Hershman said the impetus for SB 352 came from discussions he’s had with Tippecanoe County officials, including Prosecutor Pat Harrington and Project Safe Neighborhoods Anti-Gang Initiatives Director Kathryn Redd, who see a need for educational policy regarding gang activity in Indiana schools. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz supports his legislation.

“We’re seeing a disturbing trend in the spread of criminal gangs to suburban and rural areas through social media and non-traditional recruitment,” Hershman said. “The sooner we can combat this, the better – and doing so is going to require collaboration among parents, school employees and local law enforcement officials.”

SB 352 would also require school boards to put in place anti-gang policies and awareness programs using model materials developed by The Indiana Department of Education.

Hershman’s bill now moves to the Indiana House of Representatives for further consideration.