Justice Department Awards $500,000 Grant to Suffolk County Police for Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program
The Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant is Part of Comprehensive DOJ Plan to Reduce Violent Crime in America
CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that as part of several Department of Justice actions to reduce the rising tide of violent crime in America, the Suffolk County Police Department has been awarded a $500,000 grant through the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative to reduce gun and gang-related violence in high crime areas. The grant will support enforcement strategies targeting individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime as identified through evidence-based research and analysis, and expand community outreach programs for at-risk youth.
The awarding of the grant was announced by Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General, Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Timothy D. Sini, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD).
“The Department of Justice today announces the foundation of our plan to reduce crime: prioritizing Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that has been proven to work,” stated Attorney General Sessions. “Let me be clear – Project Safe Neighborhoods is not just one policy idea among many. This is the centerpiece of our crime reduction strategy. Taking what we have learned since the program began in 2001, we have updated it and enhanced it, emphasizing the role of our U.S. Attorneys, the promise of new technologies, and above all, partnership with local communities. With these changes, I believe that this program will be more effective than ever and help us fulfill our mission to make America safer.”
“The Project Safe Neighborhoods grant will strengthen the Suffolk County Police Department’s efforts to identify, arrest and prosecute those offenders responsible for doing the most harm in communities plagued by gang-related violence, as well as support prevention programs for youths who are at risk for gang recruitment,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “This Office is committed to helping communities develop resiliency against gang recruitment so as to diminish gangs, their number and strength, as well as to continuing our prosecutive efforts directed at those who choose the wrong path and engage in gang violence.”
“The Suffolk County Police Department and its law enforcement partners have implemented an extremely aggressive strategy to eradicate MS-13 from our communities,” stated SCPD Commissioner Sini. “This grant will further those efforts. On behalf of Suffolk County, I want to thank the Department of Justice for its continued partnership.”
Crime analysis has identified several street gangs, including MS-13, Bloods, and Crips, which have been responsible for gang and gun crime in “hot spot” communities in Suffolk County. The PSN project has three objectives: utilize “hot spot” policing to coordinate and narrow the focus of intervention strategies in communities identified by the SCPD Criminal Intelligence section including Wyandanch, North Amityville, Central Islip, Brentwood and Huntington Station; target the small number of persons responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime; and provide alternatives to gang and criminal activity through mentoring and truancy programs, including the Brentwood Youth Recovery Initiative that was started in response to the murders of Brentwood High School students Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas on September 13, 2016 allegedly by MS-13 gang members.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs and providing additional tools to these programs. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York has partnered with the district attorney’s offices in Queens, Brooklyn, Richmond and Nassau Counties to reduce and prevent gun violence.
The grant is part of a recommitment to PSN announced today by Attorney General Sessions in a memo directing United States Attorneys to implement an enhanced violent crime reduction program that incorporates the lessons learned since the initiative was launched in 2001.
The Attorney General also announced the following Department of Justice initiatives to help reduce violent crime nationwide:
- Additional Assistant United States Attorney Positions to Focus on Violent Crime –The Department is allocating 40 prosecutors to approximately 20 United States Attorney’s Offices to focus on violent crime reduction.
- More Cops on the Streets (COPS Hiring Grants) – As part of our continuing commitment to crime prevention efforts, increased community policing, and the preservation of vital law enforcement jobs, the Department will be awarding approximately $98 million in FY 2017 COPS Hiring Grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
- Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force’s (OCDETF) National Gang Strategic Initiative –The National Gang Strategic Initiative promotes creative enforcement strategies and best practices that will assist in developing investigations of violent criminal groups and gangs into enterprise-level OCDETF prosecutions. Under this initiative, OCDETF provides “seed money” to locally-focused gang investigations, giving state, local, and tribal investigators and prosecutors the resources and tools needed to identify connections between lower-level gangs and national-level drug trafficking organizations.
- Critical Training and Technical Assistance to State and Local Partners –The Department has a vast array of training and technical assistance resources available to state, local and tribal law enforcement, victims groups, and others. To ensure that agencies in need of assistance are able to find the training and materials they need, Office of Justice Programs will make available a Violence Reduction Response Center to serve as a “hot line” to connect people to these resources.
- Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC) – The Department has provided grant funding to support a comprehensive approach to identifying the most violent offenders in a jurisdiction, using new technologies such as gunshot detection systems combined with gun crime intelligence from NIBIN, eTrace, and investigative efforts. These FY 2017 grants were awarded to Phoenix, AZ, and Kansas City, MO.
- Expand ATF’s NIBIN Urgent Trace Program – The Department will expand ATF’s NIBIN Urgent Trace Program nationwide by the end of the year. Through this program, any firearm submitted for tracing that is associated with a NIBIN “hit” (which means it can be linked to a shooting incident) will be designated an “urgent” trace and the requestor will get information back about the firearm’s first retail purchaser within 24 hours, instead of five to six business days.