Project Safe Neighborhoods (“PSN”) is a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun violence and promoting safe communities in this country. PSN combats gun violence by bringing together local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to implement a multi-faceted strategy to deter and punish gun violence. PSN has created unprecedented coordination among law enforcement officials, with an emphasis on prevention, tactical intelligence gathering, more aggressive prosecutions, and enhanced accountability through performance measures.
Connecticut’s Project Safe Neighborhoods Program has developed a comprehensive strategy to fulfill the goals of the national initiative. Under the leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, the District’s goal is to coordinate innovative and strategic responses to reduce violent gun crime in targeted communities throughout Connecticut by:
1. Building on partnerships between federal, state, and local officials to aggressively enforce federal and state firearms laws;
3. Informing adult and youthful offenders, upon their release from correctional facilities, about the risks of joining street gangs and the consequences of illegally possessing firearms.
In addition, the District of Connecticut’s Project Sentry program enables the U.S. Attorney's Office to expand its primary and traditional prosecutorial role in the community by reaching out to juveniles in an effort to deter juvenile gun crime and gang activity, and to promote school safety.
In 2005, as part of a nationwide effort aimed at dismantling violent street gangs and eradicating gang violence from our cities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut developed an Anti-Gang initiative, designed to focus investigative efforts on street gangs operating in our cities. The program has led to the successful investigation and prosecution of hundreds of gang members throughout the state.
The District of Connecticut’s PSN and Anti-Gang initiatives now operate as one program. Six federal prosecutors and one law enforcement coordinator coordinate PSN/Anti-Gang task forces in each of nine partner cities: Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, New London, Norwich, Stamford, Norwalk and New Britain. Each PSN task force is composed of local and state law enforcement officers along with ATF, FBI and DEA special agents. A state and federal prosecutor is assigned to each task force. The task forces meet regularly to discuss ongoing investigations, recent shooting incidents, pending gun cases and overall strategies to address gang violence.
Members of PSN investigative teams in each city attempt to respond to every incident that involves the seizure of a firearm. State and federal prosecutors then work together to determine the appropriate forum for prosecution. State and federal prosecutors also work with the officers and agents on the task force to conduct regular training sessions with the local police departments to discuss relevant issues in gun and gang investigations. And, working with state probation and parole officers and federal probation officers, members of the PSN task forces in most PSN cities conduct regular adult and youthful offender meetings.
As a result of the collaboration among the various law enforcement agencies throughout the state, and the positive working relationship between the state and federal prosecutors, the United States Attorney’s Office has steadily increased the number of gun and gang cases that it has prosecuted in federal court.