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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 1, 2018

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange Announces Progress In Making Our Communities Safer Through Project Safe Neighborhoods

     ARIZONA - One year ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which Attorney General Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s violent crime reduction strategy.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

     Throughout the past year, we have partnered with all levels of law enforcement, local organizations, and members of the community to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.

     “Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.  “We know that the most effective strategy to reduce violent crime is based on sound policing policies that have proven effective over many years, which includes being targeted and responsive to community needs.  I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face.  Each United States Attorney has prioritized the PSN program, and I am confident that it will continue to reduce crime, save lives, and restore safety to our communities.”  

     “Our goal is to make every community in Arizona a safer place to live and work,” stated First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange.  “From experience, we have learned that sustained success in combatting violent crime requires a comprehensive approach.  Our Project Safe Neighborhoods program is a collaborative partnership with federal, tribal, and local law enforcement focused on reducing gun violence and committed to sustaining the success we have seen over the past year.”

     As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of our PSN actions over the past year:

 

Enforcement Actions

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona (USAAZ) has developed partnerships with Federal, State, Local, and Tribal law enforcement, and State prosecutors, to ensure our efforts are focused against the most violent offenders.

  • A partnership of Federal and local law enforcement agencies in the Phoenix metropolitan area reduced gun violence during the past year through the formation of the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) and expanded reach of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).  The CGIC was created through a partnership between the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). USAAZ also partnered with ATF to expand the reach of NIBIN. The CGIC helps gather ballistic evidence from firearms crime scenes and enter shell casings into NIBIN within 72 hours of obtaining the evidence. The CGIC then provides investigative leads to detectives to help reduce violent crimes based on NIBIN matches. 

 

  • The CGIC program’s value in coordinating seemingly unrelated investigations by multiple agencies was dramatically demonstrated in the Dwight Jones serial shooter investigation, which involved extensive cooperation between local police and their Federal partners.  Between May 31, 2018 and June 3, 2018, Dwight Jones killed six people in the greater Phoenix area. As soon as law enforcement realized the shootings were related, PPD, ATF, Scottsdale Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) worked together round-the-clock to determine the identity of the shooter. Through the collaborative use of CGIC, NIBIN, and DNA evidence, law enforcement officers were able to identify Jones as the primary suspect.  On June 4, 2018, as police moved in to arrest Jones, he shot and killed himself.  CGIC was instrumental in connecting and solving six murders, and prevented Dwight Jones from inflicting more violence on the community.  

 

Community Partnerships

  • USAAZ is part of the Governor’s Recidivism Reduction coalition, which is responsible for creating a statewide recidivism reduction plan.  The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) received over $1 million in Department of Justice grants to implement a statewide recidivism reduction plan, and USAAZ is working with several ADC representatives to support the implementation of this statewide plan.

 

  • USAAZ has partnered with various local, state, tribal, federal and non-government agencies to support statewide prevention, outreach, and reentry initiatives.  USAAZ has facilitated several reentry simulations, which provide an opportunity for participants to assume the role of an ex-offender recently released from prison.  The simulation suggests that, ultimately, the ability to navigate "the system" may be a primary factor in the relationship between resiliency and recidivism. 

 

  • USAAZ has worked with federal law enforcement to coordinate panels for local high schools and coordinated federal courthouse tours for the local law enforcement Explorers Program.  The panels and tours educate students about federal law enforcement careers and the federal court system.

 

Improvements to Community Safety

  • The FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that after two consecutive years of historic increases in violent crime, the nationwide violent crime rate began to decline in the first year of the Trump Administration.  The nationwide violent crime rate decreased by approximately one percent in 2017, while the nationwide homicide rate decreased by nearly one and a half percent.

 

  • The preliminary information we have for 2018 gives us reason for optimism that our efforts are continuing to pay off.  Public data from 60 major cities show that violent crime was down by nearly five percent in those cities in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period a year ago.

 

These enforcement actions and partnerships are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. Learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods.

 

                RELEASE NUMBER:    2018-125_PSN

 

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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/

Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.

 

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
2018-125_PSN
Updated October 1, 2018