Department of Justice Seal

Attorney General Remarks
Project Safe Neighborhoods Unveiling
May 14, 2001

     ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: (Applause.) Well, I'm grateful and most pleased that all of us citizens of America, in particular our law enforcement community, has a president -- we all have a president who is committed to action and is willing to back that action up with the appropriate resources so that we can get the job done.

     The president is making an enormous contribution to restoring safety and compassion to America. Today's announcement will help us meet that goal. Mr. President, as you mentioned, the administration is proposing to spend well over $550 million in this effort over two years, including over $230 million available for this year.

     This funding will be used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, to support investigators, to provide training, to develop and promote community outreach efforts. Every newly appointed United States attorney will lead the way by establishing strategic partnerships that include five core elements.

     First, partnerships. The United States attorney in each judicial district will bring together all law enforcement agencies to ensure a uniform and comprehensive approach to reduce gun violence. Each United States attorney will establish a task force, consisting of federal and local officials, to review and prepare gun cases for prosecution in the most appropriate forum.

     Number two, strategic planning. The strategic plans will vary from community to community, with the same goal of reducing gun violence. Each strategy will contain the core components of intelligence gathering, enforcement policy, and specialized units.

     Number three, training. The Justice Department will partner with the ATF, the National District Attorneys Association, and local law enforcement to conduct innovative regional cross-training involving prosecutors and agents participating in gun crime enforcement.

     Number four, outreach. United States attorneys will work with existing coalitions and establish new coalitions within each community to increase awareness and participation -- awareness that those who use guns in the commission of crimes indeed will have to understand and endure the consequences.

     Number five, accountability. The United States attorneys will receive resources to measure the long-term impact of the programs that they implement. The measurement will vary from the traditional output method of counting the number of arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, and will instead gauge the reduction in crime or the outcome of the initiative. The outcome of this initiative should be safer communities and safer citizens, and we will measure the reduction in crime.

     This program will be funded by a substantial commitment of new resources available for this year. These resources include, first, $15.3 million in funding for 113 new assistant attorneys general -- U.S. attorneys -- to serve as full-time gun prosecutors; $75 million for new state and local gun prosecutors to work in partnership with the federal law enforcement authorities, which this $75 million is expected to fund approximately 600 additional prosecutors at the state and federal level.

     Number three, $44 million in state criminal history records improvement grants to ensure that state criminal records are current. Number four, $19.1 million in funding to expand ATF's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative. And number five, $41.3 million in funding to expand ATF's integrated violence reduction strategy, which targets gun-crime trafficking, armed violent offenders, and prohibited gun- buyers identified by the national instant check system. Number six, development of a community outreach tool kit for United States attorneys so that they have the resources needed to communicate the Project Safe Neighborhood message to the community in which they live. And additionally, monies are available in the 2002 budget to bring the total expenditures for this program to well over $550 million.

     Finally, Mr. President, I want you to know that Project Safe Neighborhood could not have been developed, nor can it be implemented solely by the Department of Justice. I want to thank all of our partners, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, ATF.

     I also want to thank the professional organizations who participated as advisers for the development of this initiative. In particular, the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, NOBLE; Major Cities Chiefs of Police; the Police Executive Research Forum; the National Sheriffs Association; and the National District Attorneys Association; as well as, of course, the Fraternal Order of Police, who have endorsed this initiative.

     We are grateful to these who have participated in the formulation of this policy because it is they who will join us in the implementation of this policy, your policy for safer neighborhoods, which will indeed result in the opportunity for Americans as citizens to achieve their goals.

     I thank you for this opportunity to serve with you and with them, and look forward to outcomes which reflect well on the citizens of this great nation.

     Thank you. (Applause.)