The following column is an opinion piece written by Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. The piece was submitted and was not edited or altered by AllOnGeorgia. It reflects the views of the candidate and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia. All candidates seeking office have the opportunity to submit content to AllOnGeorgia.
I am running for governor to put hardworking Georgians first. In addition to proposing plans to empower small businesses, reform state government, and strengthen rural Georgia, I have also introduced bold initiatives to tackle illegal immigration and keep families safe from criminal aliens.
Our Track and Deport plan, which was released in March of 2018, includes the creation of a Criminal Alien Database that provides law enforcement with the resources to track and swiftly deport criminal aliens from our jails and prisons. This comprehensive database will also give lawmakers the data sets needed to craft legislation at the State Capitol.
During the creation of Track and Deport, I personally met with law enforcement leaders and prosecutors who reiterated the growth of organized crime and the undeniable power of the Mexican drug cartel in Georgia. While deporting criminal aliens from the Peach State will certainly impact the opioid epidemic, curb sex trafficking, lower crime rates, and protect families from violence, we must stop gang violence and dismantle gang infrastructure to ensure a bright and promising future for hardworking Georgians.
Gang membership in America is growing at a meteoric rate with upwards of 33,000 identified gangs and 1.4 million loyal members. These violent criminals are flooding the streets with drugs, illegal weapons, violence, and fear. Simply put, our families – and our communities – are under attack.
In 2010, the Georgia Legislature codified this “crisis” with GA. CODE ANN. § 16-15- 2. Nearly a decade later, there are 127 gangs in Atlanta with over 40,000 members who are responsible for more than 50% of the region’s violent crime. Outside of Atlanta, Lagrange boasts 700 gang members and Savannah has nearly 2,000. Every pocket of our state has gang activity. No one is safe from their wrath.
To stop and dismantle gangs in Georgia, we developed a comprehensive approach that raises public awareness, funds the Criminal Street Gang Database, empowers the Attorney General’s office, and provides local law enforcement with resources and manpower.
Georgia has the strongest anti-gang legislation in the nation. As governor, we will put these laws to work for hardworking Georgians throughout our state.
By raising awareness and drawing connections between gangs and opioid abuse, sex trafficking, illegal immigration, and violent crime, we will bring this crisis out of the shadows and on to the front page of the local paper. The more citizens know, the more successful we will be in our battle against organized crime.
In the same way that our Criminal Alien Database will help law enforcement track and deport those that are here illegally, funding the Criminal Street Gang Database with existing state resources, will connect law enforcement agencies and provide data to take down gang members throughout Georgia.
To put more criminals behind bars – and curb the growth of gang membership – we will empower the Attorney General’s office to prosecute gang cases with jurisdictions that span multiple counties. With a special unit at the state level, our state’s top lawyer will have tools and funding to keep our families safe.
As gangs grow in communities outside of Atlanta – where funding is short and officer attrition is high – I will create a Gang Strike Team that – upon request -can assist communities under siege by groups like MS-13. Made up of state and local law enforcement leaders, prosecutors, and policy makers, this group will train, educate, and provide manpower to put gangs out of commission.
As governor, I’m committed to making our state #1 for small business. I’ll work to reform state government and change the way we tax, spend, and operate. We will strengthen rural Georgia and make sure every part of our state has the same opportunity to grow thrive and prosper. I’ll stand up for our conservative, Georgia values, fight for our 2nd Amendment Rights, and push for reforms in education, adoption, and immigration.
But all of these efforts are in vain if we can’t protect our kids, our families, and our communities from violence. If we don’t address the elephant in the room now, we will pay for it later.
To put Georgians first, we have to Stop and Dismantle gangs in Georgia. We have to crack down on criminal aliens. We have to prioritize public safety reform.
I hope you will join me in this fight. Our children are counting on us.