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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Announces Progress in Making our Communities Safer through Project Safe Neighborhoods

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA - 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.  We have seen a double-digit decrease in violent crime in Wheeling alone.

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.”  

“The first year of the revitalization of PSN is just the beginning. As we see strides in reducing violent crime in our communities, the work has only just started. It our mission to continue to build on our law enforcement partnerships and to keep the residents in our district safe. Our PSN Coordinating Assistant United States Attorney, Dave Perri, has done an excellent job,” said Powell.

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:

Enforcement Actions

The Northern District of West Virginia has strong, reinvigorated partnerships with the task forces, sheriff’s offices, and police departments across the 33 counties in our district. As a collective force, law enforcement and our office have prosecuted more than 300 violent crime offenders since the PSN revitalization one year ago. 

For example, Gregory Keith Clinton, of Kearneysville, West Virginia, was sentenced in August 2018 to 22 years incarceration for drug and firearm charges. After a three-day trial in April 2018, a jury found Clinton guilty of one count of “Armed Career Criminal Act,” and other drug charges. Read more here.

Also in August 2018, Emory Chiles, of Steubenville, Ohio, was sentenced 30 years incarceration for drug and firearms charges. A jury found Chiles, age 43, guilty of one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin,” one count of “Use of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Offense,” and one count of “Unlawful Possession of a Firearm” in April 2018. Read more here.

These cases are just a few examples of PSN at work in the Northern District.  

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. 

The Northern District of West Virginia is experiencing similar results in many communities. For example, the City of Wheeling, our target enforcement area, in partnership with the Wheeling Police Department, has seen a 12% decrease in violent crime from 2017 to 2018 during the same period. With PSN partnerships in our communities, the district is encouraged by this trend.

Community Partnerships

Reentry education and assistance is an important part of the PSN initiative and vital to ensuring communities are safer when those incarcerated return home. The Northern District of West Virginia is active in the community in its reentry efforts, providing reentry presentations and simulations to community groups across the district. The Reentry Simulation is now being used as an educational tool at all Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities within the district. Our office has provided the necessary simulation kits, training, and support for the simulations to be implemented as inmate-run programs. The office has also offered the same for the West Virginia Division of Corrections.

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.

Updated October 3, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods