U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider Announces Progress in Making our Communities Safer through Project Safe Neighborhoods
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.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods has been a long-standing weapon in our fight against violent gangs and gun crimes in Michigan,” United States Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “With this new revitalization of Project Safe Neighborhoods, we now have even more resources to go after violent offenders who seek to wreak havoc in our communities. Our success is a direct result of the hard work and commitment of our state and local law enforcement partners.”
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, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has continued to partner 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.”
“We are one community. When criminals prey on one of us, it hurts all of us,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge James Deir. “Because we are one community, ATF will never waver in our mission to protect the public from violent criminals.”
“Ensuring the safety and security of our residents in the city of Detroit is our number one priority. With the collaborative efforts of Project Safe Neighborhoods, we will continue our efforts to target and dismantle gangs, as well as, other violent offenders that pose a threat to the safety and wellbeing of our City,” said Assistant Chief James White.
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:
Detroit is one of the original ten cities that participated in the rollout of Project Safe Neighborhoods in 2001. Since then, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has expanded its PSN efforts to cover the entire Eastern District of Michigan.
Since the revitalization of PSN in October 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has increased its PSN caseload by 14%.
In the last few months, the United States Attorney’s Office has hired 18 new Assistant United States Attorneys to fill vacancies in the office. Six of these Assistant U.S. Attorneys are entirely new positions. Five are focusing on violent crime and gun prosecutions; one is focusing on immigration-related crimes. The office now has 120 full-time Assistant U.S. Attorneys. The Eastern District of Michigan covers 34 counties with a population of over 6.5 million residents
The U.S Attorney’s Office has been working closely with our state and local partners to ensure that federal efforts are focused on the most violent offenders. By incorporating the basic principles of the Detroit One Initiative along with PSN, we have created a unified approach, working in partnership with a large community of stakeholders to reduce violent crime. By utilizing available data and advances in technology, we have been able to identify offenders who are driving violent crime rates in certain areas of Detroit.
Given the success of PSN in the northwest area of Detroit, the Justice Department is providing additional PSN funding to the eastside of Detroit using the nearly $700,000 grant awarded last week. The funding will be utilized to enhance the suppression, prosecutorial and outreach activities identified as best practices to target violent crime and improve the quality of life for the community.
In addition, the Department of Justice announced last week that the City of Detroit was awarded $800,000 to be used to hire personnel to utilize the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), to purchase technology required to operate a Crime Gun Intelligence Center and ammunition for ballistic tests of recovered weapons.
Information sharing is a key piece in this strategy. Two ways in which information is shared is through Project Green Light and Gun Stat. Project Green Light is a crime-fighting partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Police Department and local businesses whereby real-time cameras are installed and connected directly to the Detroit Police Department headquarters where video feeds are received, monitored and analyzed. Information gathered from the surveillance cameras have proven useful in federal prosecutions. In one instance, the footage from one of the surveillance cameras lead to an indictment of a three-time convicted felon who was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after officers caught him trying to discard a firearm into a dumpster.
Another vital tool in sharing information is Gun Stat. Gun Stat is a partnership between the Detroit Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, the ATF, and the FBI. The purpose of GunStat is to focus on benchmarks that lead to an overall reduction of violent gun related crime. Specific emphasis is place on violent offenders and gun related cases. Law enforcement will review citywide gun arrests and look at whether the arrestee has certain characteristics that statistically contribute to violent gun related crimes. Such characteristics include if the arrestee is a gang member or an associate of a gang, has a prior arrest with a firearm, has a violent criminal history, is on probation or parole, was shot or has been a shooter, or has other gun related contacts. Based on these factors, law enforcement will prioritize resources and focus on those individuals who are more likely to engage in violent gun related crimes.
Another key component to any successful crime-fighting initiative is community engagement. The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our law enforcement partners and community members are actively involved in outreach programs as part of our prevention strategy. Two of those outreach programs are Ceasefire and Project Sentry.
Operation Ceasefire Detroit is a community based violence prevention partnership aimed at reducing violent crime. Under the program violent street group members on parole or probation are called in to meetings as a condition of their release. Participants include law enforcement officials who explain to the street groups that continued violence will result in prosecution and stiff prison sentences. Social service providers describe services that are available under re-entry programs to help street group members succeed outside of prison and residents of the street group members’ own communities -- clergy, ex-offenders and families of victims of violent crime describe in graphic and personal terms the consequences of violence in their neighborhood, and insist that the street group members help stop the violence. Call-ins occur quarterly at preselected locations within the City of Detroit. Following the hour long presentation, the speakers and participants have dinner and fellowship to reinforce the message: the community will assist every group member who wants to change his life for the better.
Project Sentry is a school-based youth engagement approach to reducing gun violence through prevention and deterrence strategies. The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan (USAMIE) is committed to educating youth on the dangers and consequences of gun violence. Like many USAMIE outreach efforts, Project Sentry relies on federal, state, and local law enforcement volunteers, along with other first responders to raise awareness about gun violence.
Improvements to Community Safety
• 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 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.
• Detroit PSN focuses on the 8th precinct of Detroit. The 8th precinct, on Detroit’s west-side, historically has experienced some of the highest levels of violence in the city. According to statistics compiled by the PSN Michigan State University Research Partner, fatal and non-fatal shootings continued a downward trend that began in 2017. The first six months of 2018 experienced a 13% decrease from 2017 and a 28% decrease from 2016. When compared to the average number of fatal and non-fatal incidents that occurred from 2014 to 2016, the first six months of 2018 witnessed a 20% decline.
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.