Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that Bay Area cities will get $1.7 million in grants aimed at fighting gang violence.

Schwarzenegger said a total of more than $9.2 million is being awarded to 24 cities throughout the state under his California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention initiative.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger said, “My highest priority is the safety of Californians, and these grants will help reduce gang violence, improve public safety and assist anti-gang efforts in many of our communities.”

He said, “These grants will help strengthen our statewide anti-gang efforts by giving our local communities greater resources to fight and prevent gang activity.”

Oakland, Mountain View, San Francisco and the combined area of Richmond and San Pablo will each receive $382,639. East Palo Alto will get $191,317.

In Monterey County, the combined area of Gonzales, Greenfield, King City and Soledad will get $382,639, as will Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.

Paul Seave, the director of the Governor’s Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy, said his office received proposals from 36 cities and selected the 24 recipients through a competitive grant process.

He said applications were rated by expert panels on the basis of more than 20 objective factors, including the number of gang-related homicides and other crimes, demographic information and use of evidence-based practices.

Seave said, “The gang problem in California has become statewide, and part of the Governor’s anti-gang initiative is to bring additional resources to our local communities to help combat gang violence and prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs.”

He said, “These grants will assist local anti-gang efforts, particularly those implementing strategies that have been proven to be effective.”

Schwarzenegger’s office said that despite an overall decrease in crime in most California cities since the 1990s, rates of gang-related violent crime have remained steady or increased in many communities.

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