ATLANTA – The Department of Justice 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 1,000 members of PSN task forces from across the nation in Atlanta today. The Department of Justice announced the release of over $50 million in grants to support PSN and anti-gang efforts and unveiled a new public service campaign aimed at educating youth about the impact of gun crime and gang violence.
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 approximately $2 billion to hire more than 200 federal prosecutors to prosecute gun crime, make grants available to hire more than 550 new state and local gun crime prosecutors, train nearly 33,000 individuals in training events across the nation, and promote other strategies to reduce gun violence in our communities. The rate of violent crime remains at a historic low.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods is about teamwork, and we’ve learned that with teamwork, we can all make a difference in our communities and in our nation. I salute all of the effort of the individuals who strive to make America safe – safe from gun and gang violence,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig S. Morford.
“I regard Project Safe Neighborhoods as one of the most significant gun and gang violence reduction efforts ever developed in this country,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan. “When local, state and federal law enforcement organizations team up with members of the community, they become a formidable force in the effort to reduce violent crime.”
New Funding for Efforts to Fight Gun Crime and Gang Violence:
Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Domingo Herraiz announced today that the Department of Justice has provided over $50 million in anti-crime funding this year through PSN. Over $20 million of the awards are aimed at reducing gun crime, and over $30 million have been awarded to combat gang violence and increase gang prevention efforts. 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 http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA. Additional information about PSN and its local programs is available on the PSN Web site at http://www.psn.gov.
In April of this year, the Department of Justice announced additional funding for four cities as part of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative. The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, initially announced by the Justice Department in February 2006, focuses anti-gang resources on prevention, enforcement and offender reentry efforts in 10 sites throughout the country: Los Angeles, Tampa, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Milwaukee, the “222 Corridor” that stretches from Easton to Lancaster in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Rochester, N.Y., and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. Supported by $2.5 million in grant funds per site, the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative aims to address gang membership and gang violence at every stage.
The Department’s FY 2008 budget request includes $200 million for Violent Crime Reduction Partnership grants and over $13 million for other violent-crime-related enhancements that will support the Project Safe Neighborhoods program and increase the prosecution of gangs and violent criminals.
New Public Service Announcements to Prevent Illegal Gun Use
The Department of Justice also announced new PSN public service announcements, created in partnership with the Ad Council. The 30- and 60-second television spots, titled “Babies,” are intended to educate youth about the perils of gun crime and its devastating family impact. The radio spots provide a glimpse into the reality of gun crime and its consequences through interviews with individuals convicted of gun crimes and their family members. The public service announcements will be distributed to English and Spanish language television and radio stations nationwide and begin airing in late September.