Justice Department Awards More Than $30 Million to Project Safe Neighborhoods to Combat Violent Crime
Eastern District of Tennessee to receive $294,968
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Attorney General Sessions today commemorated the reinvigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. In support of the Department’s PSN programs throughout the country, the Attorney General also announced awards of almost $28 million in grant funding to combat violent crime through PSN and another $3 million for training and technical assistance to develop and implement violent crime reduction strategies and enhance services and resources for victims of violent crime. Over the past year, the Department has partnered with all levels of law enforcement, local organizations, and members of the community to reduce violent crime and make American neighborhoods safer.
The Eastern District of Tennessee was awarded $294,968 for use by the recently formed PSN Task Force, consisting of representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement, in its efforts to reduce violent crime in the district. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the PSN Task Force includes representatives from the Chattanooga Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, Greeneville Police Department, First, Second, Sixth, and Eleventh District Attorney’s Offices, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Probation and Parole, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security, and U.S. Probation Office.
“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 committed to driving down violent crime across the Eastern District of Tennessee,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey. “The PSN Task Force plans to attack the violent crime problem by identifying significant offenders and targeting them for prosecution. Though collaboration and cooperation with our local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, our goal is to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer.”
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.
Through the enhanced PSN, the Department is targeting the most violent criminals in the most violent areas, utilizing policing tools that did not exist even a few years ago. Tools like crime gun intelligence centers (CGIC), which combine intelligence from gunshot detection systems, ballistics, gun tracing, and good old-fashioned police work, help to develop real-time leads on the “traffickers and trigger pullers” who are fueling the violence in their communities. By using modern technologies and cutting-edge police work, the Justice Department is deploying resources strategically to provide the greatest return on our community-based anti-violence efforts.
United States Attorneys across the country are using powerful federal laws against the criminals driving the violent crime in their communities. In fiscal year 2018, the Department brought cases against more violent criminals than ever before—increasing by approximately 15 percent than the Department’s previous record set just last year. Additionally, in 2018 the Department set another record by charging approximately 20 percent more criminals with federal firearms offenses than it had in 2017, which is the most in the Department’s history.
The Department has already started to observe positive signs of progress. 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 for 2018 shows that the Department’s efforts are continuing to pay off. Public data from 60 major cities show that violent crime decreased by nearly five percent in those cities in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period one year earlier.
The grants announced today build on Attorney General Sessions’ commitment to reducing violent crime in America, as directed by President Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order. The Department has distributed additional resources and built up strong partnerships with local law enforcement in communities plagued by violent crime. Since the announcement of the reinvigoration of the PSN program in October 2017, the Department of Justice has increased the number of federal prosecutors focused on violent crime by over 300, directed its resources to improving cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies, restored local control of police agencies by reining in excessive use of consent decrees, reformed civil asset forfeiture and restored asset-sharing with state and local law enforcement, and helped fund over 800 hundred officers in police departments across America.