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Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN)

Maryland Project Safe Neighborhoods Overview

The United States Attorney’s Office’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program (PSN) is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat violent crime that combines:

(1) local, state and federal collaborative and strategic law enforcement;

(2) prevention and intervention-focused efforts in partnership with community-based organizations; and

(3) community outreach and public awareness. 

The core principles of our efforts include fostering trust and legitimacy in the communities we serve, investing in community-based prevention and intervention programs, and holding ourselves and those who commit violence accountable.

1. Local, state and federal collaborative and strategic law enforcement

The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) leads a collaborative and strategic local, state, and federal enforcement effort to hold accountable repeat violent offenders and criminal organizations that drive the violence in our communities.  These investigations and prosecutions involve federal investigations of gangs, illegal gun possession, gun trafficking, drug trafficking organizations, and robbery crews connected to acts of violence. 

The largest component of this law enforcement effort is the coordinated, collaborative prosecution of illegal firearms possession by violent repeat offenders.  Under this initiative, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) and local law enforcement officers screen every firearm arrest in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County and forward cases that meet certain criteria for USAO review.  Working with our partners in the Baltimore City States Attorney’s Office and the Prince George’s County States Attorney’s Office, the USAO reviews and where appropriate, adopts these cases for federal prosecution.  In coordination with the Maryland State Police, the USAO reviews and accepts for prosecution potential firearms cases from any sub-division in Maryland.  In considering whether a case should be prosecuted in federal court, the USAO considers the strength of the case, the defendant’s criminal record and the connection of the defendant to acts of violence or other crimes. 

Working with local police and federal law enforcement, the USAO also investigates and prosecutes historical murder cases as well as cases involving firearms trafficking, commercial robberies, bank robberies and carjackings.  The USAO also vigorously pursues large-scale drug conspiracy cases where the target of the prosecution is an organization connected to past or present acts of violence.  By conducting thorough, long-term investigations, these cases seek not only to disrupt and disable active criminal enterprises, but also to hold their members accountable for past acts of violence by charging historical murders and assaults as overt acts of the larger conspiracy.

2. Prevention and intervention-focused efforts in partnership with community-based organizations

Recognizing that prevention and intervention are critical and highly effective complements to reducing violent crime, the U.S. Department of Justice invests in, and the USAO works collaboratively with, community-based organizations that have developed innovative approaches to intervening in the lives of those at the highest risk of engaging in or becoming victims of violence. 

For example, the USAO recognizes the importance of successful reentry.  Our Reentry Program helps returning citizens and justice-involved individuals connect with service providers.  The program also assists in the coordination of local responses to reentry and the reduction of recidivism.  The program consists of four major components.  First, the development and maintenance of a reentry resource directory for the State, organized by political sub-division.  Second, with local partners, the USAO hosts resource fairs around the State where service providers and employers meet with returning citizens to offer a wide variety of services and opportunities.  And finally, the USAO has an outreach program involving federal prisons in the area where our reentry specialist provides information on resources and assistance to inmates soon to be released to Maryland.  Finally, the office convenes a Statewide Alliance for Returning Citizens to facilitate collaborate among non-profit organizations and share best practices. 

Also, the USAO focuses its prevention and intervention efforts on at-risk youth and young adults—encouraging them on a path towards their best selves.  Our community outreach unit seeks to reach these individuals by offering programming in schools.  The USAO provides outreach services in schools focusing on crime prevention and awareness consistent with office priorities, such as reentry, internet safety, cyber security, gang recognition, and fraud prevention.  The USAO also partners with community-based organizations to prevent gang and violence involvement and to turn lives around and towards productive citizenship.

3. Community outreach and public awareness

Efforts to reduce violent crime in our communities succeed when all citizens, including U.S. Attorneys and other law enforcement leaders, are personally involved and take proactive steps to engage meaningfully with the community.  The U.S. Attorney and USAO staff meet regularly with state and local counterparts, coordinate investigative and enforcement efforts, and convene community and other stakeholders to discuss ongoing work to improve public safety.  But law enforcement leaders must also understand that being part of the broader communities we serve means listening, learning, gaining perspective, increasing mutual understanding, and collaborating around our shared values of justice and improving public safety.  Finally, law enforcement and prosecution partners need to educate wrongdoers and those at risk of criminality about the consequences of criminal activity.

    Updated July 31, 2023