Skip to main content
Press Release

United States Attorney Comments on Law Enforcement Funding for Selma

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Alabama

The United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) today awarded $1 million to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to help law enforcement agencies respond to the increased homicides and gang crime in the city of Selma and the surrounding area. BJA invited ADECA, an established state agency with a recognized ability to oversee emergency law enforcement situations, to apply for funding under the Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program (EFLEA). The EFLEA Program allows BJA to make funds available to a state government to respond effectively to an “uncommon situation,” one that is, or threatens to become, serious or epidemic in scope, and in which state and local resources are inadequate to protect the lives and property of citizens. The funding through this award will provide much needed equipment for law enforcement officers and overtime expenses to perform saturation patrols in high crime areas. This program supports the Department of Justice’s mission of reducing crime and supporting public safety personnel in the context of an emergency situation.

A separate Department of Justice initiative, known as Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN), targets and aims to lower violent crime across America. This effort has been largely successful and violent crime rates have fallen in most major cities in the United States over the past two years. The model to reduce violent crime is very simple: identify the “trigger pullers” who are the worst of the worst, and who are inflicting the most damage in our communities, and then prosecute them for the federal crimes that they commit. In the Southern District of Alabama, that means primarily prosecuting convicted felons who illegally possess firearms.

The PSN effort in Selma, Alabama is called “Weed and Seed” and is led by United States Attorney Richard W. Moore, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, with a Steering Committee of local civic leaders, city officials, law enforcement, educators, and business leaders.
The “Weed and Seed” concept was used previously to successfully reduce violent crime in Selma and it is a recognized brand in the community. “Weed and Seed” integrates law enforcement, community policing, prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood restoration efforts. It is a comprehensive approach intended to empower citizens to take back their city from criminals.

The Director of Selma’s Weed and Seed Steering Committee is retired Judge Maggie Drake-Peterson. “Judge Drake” was selected as the Director because of her commitment to Selma, her accomplishments as a state court judge in Michigan, and because she is a respected leader in Selma. Judge Drake was born in Orville, Alabama, and graduated from Keith High School as Valedictorian. Before graduating from law school, Judge Drake was a police officer in Detroit, Michigan. She was later elected to the Circuit Court bench in Wayne County, Michigan, where she served until she retired and returned to her home in Orville, Alabama. Since returning home, Judge Drake has been involved with a number of local community activities, including the Library Board of Selma/Dallas County, and the West Dallas Water Authority where she serves as the Chairperson. She is married to the Rev. Dr. Joe J. Peterson, a retired minister. Judge Drake is a trusted advisor to United States Attorney Richard Moore, and a strong leader for the Weed and Seed Steering Committee.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has steadily prosecuted federal criminal offenses in Selma with the help and collaboration of the FBI, ATF, DEA, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Selma Police Department, and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. Since early-2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 62 defendants who were located in Selma. These defendants have received an average sentence of approximately 47 months. Nineteen defendants who have been charged in a criminal drug conspiracy are set for trial in October 2019.
United States Attorney Richard W. Moore said, “This award from our federal partners in the Department of Justice will enable law enforcement to ramp up the arrest and prosecution of a violent element in Selma that has, for too long, made the city unsafe. We will not rest until Selma is safe again and order is restored. Selma is known as the ‘Queen of the Black Belt’ and is now poised to once again become a vibrant community on the Alabama River. The citizens of Selma have demonstrated that they have the will to take back their city. Our local, state and federal law enforcement partners are working tirelessly with us to eradicate violent crime in Selma, and to ‘seed’ in preventive measures that will make our progress sustainable. Selma has a bright future, due in part to the emergency funding to law enforcement.”

The $1 million dollar award will be administered locally by the Dallas County Commission, which is chaired by Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn. Moore said, “The citizens of Dallas County and the City of Selma should be grateful that Judge Nunn and the Dallas County Commission are assuming this important function that will result in safer streets for both the County and Selma.”

Updated May 15, 2019