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Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales Visits Roanoke, Virginia
to Highlight Project Safe Neighborhood Accomplishments

ROANOKE, Va. – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today visited Roanoke, Va. to highlight recent Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) accomplishments in the city and met with the PSN Task Force. In 2001 President George W. Bush initiated Project Safe Neighborhood as a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun crime in the nation. The initiative links federal, state and local efforts with community leaders to effectively deter gun crime. It also ensures that appropriate funding reaches all levels of gun violence enforcement.

“Project Safe Neighborhood combats gun violence and fosters safer communities nationwide through both law enforcement and prevention -- two goals that have been given equal time and effort here in Roanoke," stated Attorney General Albert R. Gonzales. "I applaud the cooperative work of the members of this task force, and their unfailing efforts to keep Roanoke a safe place to live.”

In the last five years the number of firearms prosecutions has more than doubled in the Western District of Virginia. In 2005, there were 215 federal firearms cases prosecuted in the Western District of Virginia. Already in 2006, 144 firearms cases have been filed.

“One of our top goals is to stop gun violence by taking illegal firearms out of our communities. With the help of our federal, state and local partners we are making the goals of Project Safe Neighborhood a reality,” said U.S. Attorney John Brownlee.

The members of the Roanoke PSN Task Force include the following law enforcement officials:

*Captain George W. Austin, Va. State Police

*Master Trooper Darryl Bowling, Va. State Police

*Sheriff Fred Newman, Washington County, Va.

*Sheriff Tim Carter, Shenandoah County, Va.

*Chief A.L. "Joe" Gaskins, Roanoke City Police Department

*Chief James Ray Lavinder, Roanoke County Police Department

*Chief James R. Bryant, Salem Police Department

*Chief Charles W. Bennett, Lynchburg Police Department

*Chief Michael E. Rogers, Martinsville Police Department

*Chief Philip Broadfoot, Danville Police Department

*Chief Timothy J. Longo, Charlottesville Police Department

*Colonel Donald G. Harper, Chief, Harrisonburg Police Department

Since the program’s launch, there have been significant increases in gun crime prosecutions nationwide. In FY 2005 the Department filed 10,841 federal firearms cases, a 73% increase since PSN’s inception. Over 93% of those offenders received prison terms and over 68% were sentenced to three or more years in prison.