Schaer Unveils Legislation Designed to Combat Gang Recruitment of Minors

Assemblyman Held Friday Morning Press Event in Passaic

(PASSAIC) – Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Passaic City Mayor Hector C. Lora, Passaic City Chief of Police Luis Guzman, and Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik held a press conference Friday morning at the Passaic Board of Education to present new legislation to strengthen penalties against those who recruit minors to commit crimes for criminal street gangs.

Assemblyman Schaer’s bill (A-2177) was introduced in response to concerns brought by Passaic City Mayor Lora over gangs recruiting minors near schools. It establishes liability for those who intimidate or coerce a minor to commit crimes on behalf of the gang. Additionally, the bill sets tiered mandatory minimums depending on the circumstance. It also prohibits those convicted of the crimes outlined in the bill from residing within 500 feet of a school or holding a job which primarily consists of contact with children.

“This legislation attacks the growing trend of gangs recruiting children to carry out crimes” said Assemblyman Schaer (Bergen, Passaic). “Whether our schools are in an urban or suburban area, we must fulfill our obligation to protect our youngest residents. Gang leaders who exploit children and teens will now face mandatory minimums for committing these heinous crimes.”

“I cannot think of anything more important than protecting our children from criminals” said Mayor Hector Lora who also stressed the importance of after school programming “as well as recreational and community efforts.”
Chief Luis Guzman reiterated the need for parents, educators, religious groups, and civic organizations to play a significant role in steering kids away from gangs, saying, “We all must do our part in finding a solution”.

The bill was introduced to the Assembly on January 29th and is now under review by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.