Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun and gun crime and providing these programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to this initiative. This funding is being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, distribute gun lock safety kits, deter juvenile gun crime, and develop and promote community outreach efforts as well as to support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.
History and Foundation
The Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative was launched in 2001, and built upon the foundations of previously-existing gun crime reduction efforts such as the Clinton-era Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI), Richmond's Project Exile, and the Boston Ceasefire program. By studying these and other efforts, the Department determined that successful gun crime reduction initiatives had three common elements: they were comprehensive, coordinated and community-based. It is on these three fundamental principles that PSN is based. More specifically:
Comprehensive – While enforcement is a necessary and important aspect of crime reduction programs, the most successful initiatives marry enforcement with prevention and deterrence efforts.
Coordinated – Programs that ensure coordination between the enforcement, deterrence and prevention efforts are more likely to succeed than those that do not.
Community-based – Gun crime is local, and the resources available to address it vary from district to district. Accordingly, any national gun crime reduction program must remain sufficiently flexible for jurisdictions to implement it in a way that both responds to the specific problem in that area, and accounts for the particular local capacities and resources that can be dedicated to it.
To implement the program, each United States Attorney's Office has designated a PSN Coordinator who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the initiative. The Department monitors the progress of the initiative through reports submitted by each United States Attorney. In addition, the Department established a point-of-contact for each district to assist with implementation issues and created the Firearms Enforcement Assistance Team (FEAT) to support the program overall. To help ensure that each district developed the skills it needed to implement the initiative, OJP has funded a comprehensive network of training and technical assistance providers, and hosts a PSN National Conference approximately every 18 months. Individual districts also have received grant funding, through a local fiscal agent, for each year of the program.
In 2006, in response to the growing problem of violent gangs across the country, the Department expanded Project Safe Neighborhoods to include a focus on gangs and gang violence. The goal is to use strategies and partnerships with state and local law enforcement and communities pioneered under PSN to shut down violent gangs in America. As a result, although PSN remains "America's Network Against Gun Violence," each federal judicial district has incorporated anti-gang efforts into its PSN program.
More information can be found at www.projectsafeneighborhoods.gov.