U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has made good on a promise to bring additional federal resources to Illinois and Chicago to fight gangs.
The state’s junior senator said the recently passed 2014 federal spending bill contains $18.5 million to help law enforcement in Illinois combat dangerous drug gangs, capping a more than six-month effort to boost funding.
The $18.5 million figure includes $7.5 million for U.S. Marshals Service to operate anti-gang investigative units, $8.5 million for violent gang and gun crime reduction programs such as Project Safe Neighborhoods and $2.5 million in violence education.
"Illinois leads the nation in per-capita gang members, and it is time the federal government steps up and provides our local police with the assistance they need to stop violence," Kirk said in a statement. “Now that these funds are law, I will work with the Department of Justice to follow through on their promise to bring Illinois the needed resources to keep our communities safe."
Kirk has made the effort to combat gangs something of a centerpiece of his work as a Senator. In August, he and U.S. Representative Bobby Rush toured the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, located within Rush’s 1st Congressional District. At the time, the two lawmakers joined in a call to bring more federal resources to the state to fight gangs.
In February, Kirk asked the parents of slain teen Hadiya Pendleton if he could name a gun control bill after their daughter. Pendleton, an honor student who had performed at President Obama’s inaugural, was killed in January 2013 during gang violence while standing in a park after taking her final exams.