JACKSONVILLE - A new law that targets gang crime passed the North Carolina House on Wednesday. The gang suppression bill now sits on the Governor Bev Perdue's desk.
If signed into law, the N.C. Street Gang Nuisance Abatement Act would make it easier for police departments to sue gangs and the business owners who repeatedly allow illegal gang activity to take place on their property.
"We do have gang activity within the city," said Chief Michael G. Yaniero of the Jacksonville Police Department.
In 2007, a gang-related stabbing in the Jacksonville Mall parking lot left
15-year-old Christian Cardenas dead. By providing a new tool to police, the anti-gang law would help prevent incidents like the Cardenas stabbing.
Jacksonville Police have been successful in curbing gang crime. Chief Yaniero wants to ensure that doesn't change, saying, "it's a better quality of life. Gang activity has a tendency to force good people away from that particular area."
According to Chief Yaniero, most business owners cooperate with law enforcement, but this law provides civil remedies to police for those who don't. Yaniero said a set of criteria must be met before the law is triggered. For example, the business must knowingly allow the illegal activity to take place, there must be multiple incidents, and they must ignore repeated notifications from police.
Yaniero said he hopes his department does not have to utilize the new law.