U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II 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. 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, we have 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.
“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.”
“During the past 12 months, federal firearm related prosecutions have increased more than 20 percent throughout Northern Indiana. PSN is a proven strategy, and we will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners on this important initiative to reduce violent crime throughout the district, which is a high priority of my office,” announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch.
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:
The U.S. Attorney personally meets with local law enforcement heads on a regular basis to guide the effort while members of his staff work with local law enforcement to identify the most dangerous offenders who will be prosecuted in federal court. Federal and state law enforcement regularly work together to share crime intelligence information to identify the most violent members of our community. During the past year, federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies, working in conjunction with local law enforcement officials and prosecutors, have identified several groups of individuals who drive the violence in our community and have prosecuted members of those groups.
The South Bend Group Violence Intervention Program (SBGVI) unites community leaders from law enforcement, government, education, civil service, and faith-based agencies in an effort to reduce gun violence in South Bend. A centerpiece of this strategy is the critical analysis of crime data to identify groups that drive violence in the South Bend community and to focus crime prevention efforts on those groups. A means of strategic communication with identified groups is through the use of periodic “call in” meetings. The aim of the call in meeting is, by speaking to the 15-25 group connected individual invitees, spreading these SBGVI’s core messages: (1) the Community demands that gun violence must stop; (2) law enforcement will bring focused attention on any group that chooses to ignore the Community’s message and continues to engage in gun violence and; (3) the Community’s offer of social service assistance to persons who wish to embark on a path away from violence is real and robust. The law enforcement partners, based on review and analysis of violent crime data, implement enforcement actions against members and associates of groups/gangs that continue to engage in violent criminal activity. “In addition to call-in meetings, strategic communication through “custom notifications” to high risk individuals are increasingly used.”SBGVI has also recently added an outreach team whose goal is to foster relationships in the community and make citizens more comfortable with reporting information without fear of reprisal.
Like South Bend, Gary employs a group violence reduction strategy under the guidance of the National Network for Safe Communities. The strategy in Gary also includes call in meetings, custom notifications and social services outreach/support.
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.
- In South Bend, the number of people shot has dropped by 33 percent during the first three quarters of 2018 compared to the same time last year.
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.