DENVER – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales highlighted the significant accomplishments of federal, state and local officials in combating gang violence and reducing gun crime through Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) before more than 1,300 members of PSN task forces from across the nation in Denver today. During his remarks, Attorney General Gonzales announced the release of $30 million in grants to support PSN anti-gang efforts, a new public service campaign aimed at educating youth about the impact of gun crime and gang violence, and directed all U.S. Attorneys throughout the country to host Gang Prevention Summits in their districts.
The PSN task forces are a cooperative effort between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, along with research and media outreach partners, and community leaders. Since 2001, the Bush Administration has committed more than $1.6 billion to hire more than 200 federal prosecutors to prosecute gun crime, make grants available to hire more than 500 new state and local gun crime prosecutors, train more than 19,000 law enforcement officers and others across the nation in appropriate gun crime investigation methods, develop effective prevention and deterrence efforts; and promote other strategies to reduce gun violence in our communities. The violent crime rate is at its lowest level in more than 30 years.
“Gun crime and gang violence are shattering communities across the Nation,” said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. “The Justice Department and our partners in the Project Safe Neighborhoods program are committed to preventing illegal gun crime and prosecuting violent offenders who break our laws and harm our citizens.”
New Funding for Efforts to Fight Gun Crime and Gang Violence During his remarks, the Attorney General announced the release of approximately $30 million in state and local grants and training and technical assistance to support Project Safe Neighborhoods efforts to combat gang violence. The grants, administered by the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, support a comprehensive approach to fight gang violence and gun crime in America.
The U.S. Attorneys for the 94 federal judicial districts across the country, working with local law enforcement and other officials, tailor their PSN strategy to fit the districts’ unique violent crime problems. Violent gang members and criminals who use guns are prosecuted under federal, state or local laws, depending on which jurisdiction can provide the most appropriate punishment. Each district engages in deterrence and prevention efforts through community outreach and media campaigns, and ensures that law enforcement and prosecutors have the training necessary to make the program work.
A reference for the PSN grant awards is located on www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA. Additional information about PSN and its local programs is available on the PSN Web site at www.psn.gov.
These funds are in addition to the nearly $10 million in state and local grants the Department will award to gun crime reduction efforts under PSN and the $15 million in state and local grants the Department will commit to the Attorney General’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative. The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, announced by the Attorney General in February 2006, will focus anti-gang resources on prevention, enforcement and offender reentry efforts in six sites throughout the country: Los Angeles, Tampa, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Milwaukee and the “222 Corridor” that stretches from Easton to Lancaster in Pennsylvania.
The President’s proposed FY 2007 budget requests $395 million for PSN, including more than $58 million for the critical State and Local Gun Violence Assistance program, which supports PSN’s law enforcement and community partners in their efforts to combat violent gangs and gun crimes.
New Public Service Announcements to Prevent Illegal Gun Use The Attorney General also announced two new PSN public service announcements, created in partnership with the Ad Council. The 30- and 60-second spots, titled “Sounds of Gun Crime” and “Time Served,” respectively, are intended to educate youth about the perils of gun crime and the consequences of joining gangs. The announcements will be distributed to English and Spanish language radio stations nationwide and begin airing in early July.
Nationwide Gang Prevention Summits Since combating gang-violence can only be done by working in partnership with state and local law enforcement and community organizations, the Attorney General directed each U.S. Attorney to convene a Gang Prevention Summit in his or her district designed to explore additional opportunities in the area of gang prevention. These summits are to be held in the next eight months and will bring together law enforcement and community leaders to discuss best practices, identify gaps in services, and create a prevention plan to target at-risk youth within their individual communities.