Greenville, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon launched a new partnership to address reducing violent crime in communities across South Carolina at a press conference this morning at the Greenville County Courthouse. U.S. Attorney Lydon was joined by 7th Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette, 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo, 10th Circuit Solicitor David Wagner, and 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins, along with numerous members of law enforcement.
In her remarks this morning, U.S. Attorney Lydon detailed the coordinated efforts that are already underway between state and federal prosecutors, who are working in close concert with local, state, and federal law enforcement. “Reducing violent crime in South Carolina is a priority of the United States Attorney’s Office and law enforcement in general,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “One of the biggest surprises to me after taking office was coming to understand just how many shots are being fired on the streets of our communities. I think the public would be surprised, too. Because of advances in technology, we now often know just how many shots are being fired. It is alarming. The technology, however, and the analytics we now have, also better inform us of who is actually firing the shots. What we have learned is that roughly 80 to 90% of violent crime is committed by only 5 to 7% of offenders.”
“So today, with our law enforcement partners, and specifically the Solicitors of the 7th, 8th, 10th , and 13th Circuits, we want to send a message to our communities, and also to those 5 to 7% who would rob us of our security, that we are prioritizing prosecutions. The Solicitors face thousands of warrants a year, but, working together, we are going to focus on those offenders who pose the greatest threat to our safety.”
Lydon noted that, on the federal side, efforts have already begun by providing training on using objective data to identify and investigate the most violent offenders. Moving forward, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will regularly have joint meetings with law enforcement during which officials will use analytics and objective data to identify the worst offenders. The Solicitors have designated at least one prosecutor in each of their offices who will be in weekly contact with federal prosecutors and a team of law enforcement partners. Together, state and federal prosecutors will be focused on the same individuals and will determine whether each case will be prosecuted in state or federal court. Furthermore, the Solicitors are committed to having an Assistant Solicitor at the bond hearings of these most serious offenders and to moving to revoke bond on the top offenders when they re-offend.
The community will play an integral role in this partnership, Lydon remarked: “We will also have all stakeholders present at sentencing hearings, and the judge will be given the entire picture of the particular offender, including any information our office may have on the individual. Essentially, whether we are in state court or federal court, we are ‘all in’ on these top offenders.”
U.S. Attorney Lydon lifted up the work of state prosecutors as well. “I cannot thank these Solicitors enough. They face a much heavier docket than our office does. They have agreed, however, to prioritize these offenders and place a heightened focus on gun crimes and how they are charged. Some will actually hold gun court – a new designation where, by setting aside a day of court just for gun cases, they will spotlight the issue for the court and the community. Others are looking at enhanced charges when possible, instead of charging the routine misdemeanor unlawful carrying charge.”
“As their federal counterpart, our office pledges our support, our resources, and our statutes, where needed. We are much more effective when we tackle the problem together. We have always been privileged to work with them. Today, we advance a strategy of prioritized prosecutions that allow us to do it more effectively.”
The partnership announced today is part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. 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.
Lance Crick (864) 282-2105