Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs that target such crimes by providing these programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to this initiative. This funding is being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, distribute gun locking safety kits, deter juvenile gun crime, and develop and promote community outreach efforts, as well as support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.
United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill, along with the ATF Special Agent in Charge, coordinates the Project Safe Neighborhoods efforts in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
Currently (2011), the Middle District of Florida ranks third in the nation for the number of federal prosecutions of firearms related cases.
An example of our efforts in this area is the Jacksonville Gun Crime Unit. The unit meets once a week. Detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Special Agents from FDLE and ATF, prosecutors from the State Attorney's Office and U. S. Attorney's Office meet to discuss prosecution of gun crime. This cooperative effort has led to many successful prosecutions in both State and Federal Courts.
PSN specifically seeks to deter juvenile gun crime. In addition to prosecuting cases, for the past seven years, Assistant United States Attorneys have been speaking to high school and middle school students across the MDFL about gun crime. The more than 100 presentations made to date, have included facts about gun crimes, penalties, and examples of cases prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office. Thousands of students have been reached through these efforts.
"We must take a proactive approach in addressing crime," said U.S. Attorney O'Neill. "Public safety involves a combination of things. Enforcement and prosecution are just some of the tools that we utilize in keeping our communities safe. Education and awareness are key components in preventing them from ever happening in the first place."
School outreach is part of the PSN nationwide program aimed at reducing gun and gang crime in America. Anyone interested in scheduling a presentation should contact the United States Attorney's Office at (904) 301-6301.