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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

United States Attorney Krueger Announces Progress in Making 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. 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.

“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.”  

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger explained today that throughout the past year, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has 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.

“Every resident of our District deserves to live in a safe community,” United States Attorney Krueger said. “We recognize that reducing violence requires a comprehensive approach that involves all parts of our community. Through the PSN program, we are committed to working together with federal, state, local, and community partners to use all available tools to make our neighborhoods safer.” United States Attorney Krueger highlighted some of the District’s PSN actions over the past year:

Enforcement Actions

A central focus of the PSN enforcement strategy is to prosecute the most violent groups and individuals who use firearms to commit crimes:

 

 

 

  • On June 26, 2018, seven defendants were charged in a sixteen count indictment alleging, among other charges, a conspiracy to distribute heroin.  On August 7, 2018, eight defendants were charged in a twenty-one count indictment for conspiring to distribute heroin as well.  The arrest of these fifteen defendants in these two cases led to the recovery of fifteen firearms.  The charges resulted from long-term federal, state and local drug investigations, including the Milwaukee Police Department, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”), the United States Marshals Service, the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Department, the West Allis Police Department and the Wauwatosa Police Department. https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwi/pr/eight-milwaukee-defendants-charged-federal-court-heroin-conspiracy

 

 

  • On September 18, 2018, Nickie Foster, Marquel Johnson, and Martell Ford were indicted for committing a series of seven armed robberies of taxi cab drivers and gas station employees in the Milwaukee area. If convicted of all counts at trial, the defendants will face significant mandatory minimum sentences. They will also face a maximum of life in prison. The case was investigated by the Milwaukee Area Violent Crimes Task Force.  https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwi/pr/three-indicted-robberies-taxi-cab-drivers-and-gas-station-employees

 

Another significant aspect of the PSN enforcement strategy is to prevent violent crime by prosecuting the illegal proliferation of firearms. Intelligence from ATF and other local law enforcement partners allows criminal investigators to focus their efforts on finding, and ultimately prosecuting, unauthorized firearm dealers and straw purchasers of firearms. For example, on September 18, 2018, Rachel Morzfeld was indicted for falsely claiming that she purchased five firearms for herself, when, in fact, it is alleged that she purchased the firearms for others in Union Grove, Wisconsin. In addition, Federal and state prosecutors regularly communicate to determine the best venue to prosecute individuals who possess firearms illegally.

Community Partnerships

In addition to efforts to prosecute violent offenders, district-based police and prosecutor teams work with community organizations to restore properties to their highest quality, assist residents and business owners in creating and enforcing positive neighborhood norms, and create neighborhood crime-reduction plans focused on prevention of gun violence.

PSN is also focused on positive prisoner reentry, which consists of regular face-to-face call-ins of individuals aged sixteen to twenty-six who recently were released from local, state, or federal correctional institutions. Notification sessions are organized and facilitated by community-based agencies that provide trauma-informed and healing-focused care to those involved in the criminal justice system. The program ensures connections to critical assistance and support to the returning offenders and community resources and services.

Yesterday, October 2, 2018, a Reentry Summit was hosted in Kenosha, featuring inspirational messages from previously incarcerated individuals on how to set returning citizens up for success through healing and right partnerships. The Summit also included networking events to introduce prospective employers to agencies that help prepare formerly incarcerated individuals for the world of work. A similar event was hosted in November 2017 in Milwaukee and was attended by 435 individuals. 

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.

 

  • From October 1, 2017, to September 17, 2018, Milwaukee County law enforcement agencies have recovered 2,872 firearms.

 

  • Homicides in the City of Milwaukee have decreased 8%, as of September 30, 2018, compared to the number of homicides committed a year ago at this time.

 

  • Non-fatal shootings in the City of Milwaukee have decreased 16%, as of September 30, 2018, compared to the number of non-fatal shootings a year ago at this time.

 

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.

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For Additional Information Contact:

Public Information Officer Dean Puschnig 414-297-1700

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated October 3, 2018