U.S. Attorney Duncan Announces Progress in Making Communities Safer through Project Safe Neighborhoods
LEXINGTON, Ky. – One year ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s violent crime reduction strategy. PSN is an evidence-based program proven 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.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General 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.”
Throughout the past year, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky has partnered with all levels of law enforcement, local organizations, and members of the community to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.
In January 2018, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies created the Fayette County Violent Crime Task Force. The Task Force focuses investigative and prosecutorial resources on those individuals responsible for violent crime and significant drug trafficking in this area, particularly those who commit acts of violence while armed with a firearm and those who commit armed drug trafficking. The Agencies participating in this effort include the ATF, DEA, FBI, Lexington Police Department, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, the Fayette County Detention Center, the Fayette County Public Schools Law Enforcement Division, the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office.
“Combatting violent crime is a cornerstone priority for the Department of Justice and our Office,” said United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr. “As part of the enhanced PSN efforts, federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel are working in partnership to reduce violent crime in Lexington and throughout the Eastern District of Kentucky. These law enforcement partnerships have been effective and have resulted in innumerous violent offenders being removed from our streets, making our communities safer. While we are encouraged by the successes thus far, we recognize there is more work to be done. We are committed to continuing in this important endeavor; it truly benefits us all.”
“Local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors are communicating and coordinating like never before in Fayette County and we are seeing some good results,” stated Lou Anna Red Corn, Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney.
“The partnerships fostered by the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, greatly enhances the total community public safety philosophy of the Lexington Police Department and the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government,” said Lawrence Weathers, Lexington Chief of Police. “Through partnering with the U.S. Attorney, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, the Fayette County Public School Police, as well as other Federal Law Enforcement agencies, concrete plans and actions have been developed that have led to effective and efficient enforcement measures which have had a direct impact on, not just violent crime, but overall crime as well.”
“Working with our law enforcement partners, ATF continues to drive the reduction of violent firearm crimes through technical expertise and by focusing investigations on trigger-pullers and traffickers who pose the greatest threat to our communities,” stated Stuart Lowrey, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Louisville Division. “ATF remains committed to the continued success of Project Safe Neighborhoods and this comprehensive approach to public safety.”
“The PSN program has a proven track record of bringing together law enforcement agencies to share information, share resources, and work together to apprehend and prosecute the most violent offenders,” said Kathy Witt, Sheriff of Fayette County. “The revitalization and enhancement of PSN is a positive development for our community and communities across America.”
“The message should be clear; the FBI is fully committed to eliminating violent crime in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Michael A. Christman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Louisville Division, FBI. “As part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods, the FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local levels to bring those who have not received this message to justice.”
In marking the one-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are a few examples of law enforcement successes in Lexington, during the past year:
- Antoine Lamar Burns, 36, of Lexington, was sentenced on June 26, 2018, to 10 years in federal prison, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. In his guilty plea, Burns admitted to possessing a .380 caliber pistol, firing shots at someone he believed was cooperating with law enforcement, and pointing the firearm at a former girlfriend.
- Melvin Mahone, 31, of Lexington, was sentenced on June 29, 2018, to 15 years in federal prison, for trafficking in over 40 grams of fentanyl and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.
- Michael D. Jackson, 37, and Brandi Stamper, 30, both of Lexington, were sentenced in July 2018, for their roles in conspiring to distribute over 40 grams of fentanyl and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking. Jackson was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison, and Stamper was sentenced to 15 years.
- Devvin Anglen, 28, of Lexington, a convicted felon, pled guilty in Fayette Circuit Court to possession of a firearm and Persistent Felony Offender charges, after a traffic stop led to the discovery of a weapon in the car and social media video of him firing two handguns at a local range.
- Billy Lane, 36 of Lexington, pled guilty in Fayette Circuit Court to trafficking in controlled substances and Persistent Felony Offender charges, and was sentenced to serve 15 years in March of 2018. The execution of a search warrant in hotel room led to the discovery of heroin, cocaine, and other contraband that Lane was trying to destroy.
- Akeem Lyvers, 22, of Lexington, pled guilty in Fayette Circuit Court to felony trafficking charges, including forfeiture of approximately $3,000 and a handgun with a “drum” magazine that held dozens of rounds, and was sentenced to serve 8 years in prison.
“We recognize that enforcement alone is not enough, and sustained success requires a comprehensive approach,” said U.S. Attorney Duncan. “As part of that approach, Fayette County Violent Crime Task Force participants have engaged neighborhood organizations, to help us deter violent crime and prevent recidivism. As part of the PSN initiative, Fayette County Violent Crime Task Force participants have also worked in prevention and re-entry efforts, and are working with the Fayette County Public Schools’ after-school programs to provide tutoring and mentorship to children. This truly community effort is essential to combatting the threat.”
“As a prosecutor, holding offenders accountable is always my first priority, which usually means incarceration in gun violence cases,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Red Corn. “But my office, and other Task Force participants, are also very involved in PSN’s prevention, intervention, and re-entry work. Recently, in support of our PSN efforts, I attended a meeting of parolees and probationers who are beginning community supervision. The Public Library and a local mental health non-profit were also in attendance, sharing information about available education and mental health services. It is PSN’s comprehensive approach to violent crime reduction that I believe will make a long term difference in public safety in our community.”
“The Project Safe Neighborhoods partnership initiative has helped remove several violent offenders from our streets, while also helping to improve existing community relationships and create new ones,” said Chief Weathers. “This helps build community trust and government accountability by letting everyone in the community know that Project Safe Neighborhoods and its partners are serious about public safety.”
Improvements to Community Safety
Statistically, both nationally and locally, the PSN program is achieving positive results. For example:
- The FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that, after two consecutive, historic increases in violent crime, in the first year of the Trump Administration the nationwide violent crime rate began to decline. 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 reason for optimism and evidences that our efforts are continuing to pay off. Specifically, public data from 60 major cities shows 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.
- According to publicly available crime data from the Lexington Police Department, for the period of January 1 – August 31, 2018, robberies, aggravated assaults, breakings and entering, larcenies, and auto thefts are all down, when compared to January 1 – August 31, 2017.
- Through September 15, 2018, there have been 62 assaults with firearms reported in Lexington. There were 94 assaults with firearms reported in 2017.
- In 2018 through, August 31, there have been 19 homicides in Lexington. In 2017, there were 28 homicides.
“The PSN program is based on strong partnerships,” said U.S. Attorney Duncan. “We will strive to build on our shared successes, recognizing there is still work to be done,” said U.S. Attorney Duncan. “We look forward to continued partnerships, to developing new ones, and to making further progress. This endeavor truly advances everyone’s interests.”
Learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods.