Community Outreach - Home
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California dedicates significant resources to collaborating with the community to prevent crime, enhance public safety, and improve the quality of life. United States Attorney Tara K. McGrath feels strongly that our office must continually connect with stakeholders to better understand and respond to community needs. Our prosecutors and engagement team members often work directly with local police officers, agency officials, residents, schools, nonprofit organizations, and others to develop comprehensive solutions to emerging public safety problems. The office is committed to taking on leadership roles in prevention organizations, building bonds of trust in the community, investing time in mentoring programs, and enhancing public safety through increased awareness and education.
Hate Crimes Awareness and Prevention
We are working to ensure that every person who is subjected to a hate incident understands why and how to report it. In law enforcement, there are important steps we can take, in addition to prosecutions. At DOJ, we are working to make sure law enforcement agencies collect accurate data so that we understand the scope of hate crimes. Our overriding goal is to keep our community safe by ensuring that those who commit hate crimes are held accountable; over the past 10 years, the Department of Justice has charged more than 200 defendants nationwide with hate crimes offenses and supported the investigation of local prosecutions.
In the past few years, we’ve seen a disturbing increase in threats, violence and harassment directed at specific groups. Our office has collaborated with local law enforcement agencies and community partners to educate the community on the importance of reporting hate incidents and crimes. The U.S. Attorney's Office co-chairs the San Diego Anti-Hate Coalition, which coordinates outreach, education, and dialogue regarding bullying, hate incidents and hate crimes in the San Diego Region. We have also hosted several Hate Crime forums to educate the community and encourage them to report hate crimes. This past year the U.S. Attorney’s Office assisted in launching San Diego’s first United Against Hate Week.
Protecting Houses of Worship
Our Constitution protects our right to worship freely. We are working to ensure that all houses of worship are adequately protected so their congregants can worship in peace. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has cosponsored workshops to make religious leaders aware of critical government and community resources, including infrastructure grants and security assessments, including the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services’ Nonprofits Security Grant Program. Many of our district’s religious institutions successfully applied for these funds in the past and they are safer today as result.
Project Safe Neighborhood
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide federal initiative that brings together federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. In the Southern District of California, the cases prosecuted under the PSN banner include firearms offenses, bank robberies, Hobbs Act robberies, narcotics distribution, and other federal offenses when the defendant is gang related and/or an individual with a documented violent history. But our work does not end with enforcement. Our office’s PSN Task Force has facilitated more than $1 million in grant funding to local nonprofit agencies to help reduce violence, foster safer neighborhoods, and provide real reentry pathways. The PSN Task Force has representatives from many agencies that take part in executing the grant strategy, including: our office; the San Diego City Attorney’s Office; Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Coordination Center, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office; San Diego Police Department; SANDAG; United States Probation Department; Social Advocates for Youth; and the San Diego County Probation Department. Recipients of PSN grants include:
- Boys & Girls Club of Oceanside
- Education COMPACT
- El Centro Pal
- Imperial County Gang Intelligence Coalition
- Inner City Athletics
- Open Heart Leaders
- Reality Changers
- Rise Up Industries
- San Diego City Attorney's Office
- Star Pal
- Vista Community Clinic
- Youth Empowerment
Responding to The Opioid and Stimulant Crisis
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is actively involved in raising awareness about the growing opioid and stimulant epidemic, which is devastating and taking lives. Our fentanyl and methamphetamine prosecutions have increased exponentially over the past five years, as have our cases against those who cause overdoses. But we recognize that we cannot prosecute our way out of this challenge. Our office is out in community providing educational presentations and creating education material like our Block Fentanyl campaign (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGvHJHdPh24X9JHCAywDdqt-Osgrb6yiR) to educate the community of the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs. In addition, our office is actively involved in coalitions that bring together dozens of stakeholders to address enforcement, prevention, and treatment issues.
In the past few years, Outreach Director Cindy Cipriani has planned a serious of Overdose Prevention Summits, which convened regional and national leaders to share emerging trends and best practices. These summits focus on effective law enforcement investigations; reducing stigma; reaching diverse communities; connecting public health, public safety, and prevention; facilitating treatment; and implementing harm reduction strategies. These events, which also featured many individuals with lived experience, have spurred increased dialogue and new collaborations, such as the creation of the fentanyl toolkit, a valuable awareness and “train the trainer” resource. The toolkit can be found at the PDATF Website: https://www.sdpdatf.org/fentanyl-toolkits. The 2023 Overdose Prevention Leadership Summit is scheduled for November 16-17. You can register here.
Tribal Liaison Program
We prioritize outreach efforts to local tribes acting as a convenor and facilitator. Our Tribal Liaison, AUSA Kim-Thoa Hoang, works with in partnership with Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services, the California Attorney General’s Office of Native American Affairs, the Sheriff’s Department, and the District Attorney's Office to enhance relations with tribal leaders and create opportunities for improved communications and training.
Tribal Crime Prevention Work
Tribal Liaison AUSA Kim-Thoa Hoang, in collaboration with Barona Recreation Center and the Youth Center & Learning Center at Pala, offered a youth program for 5th through 12th graders at Barona and Pala. The sessions focused on preparing the students for planning their future, and teaching kids the importance of positive decision-making and refusal skills. This program allowed youth to learn in a fun and interactive way about the importance of making positive decisions.
In addition to youth prevention, AUSA Hoang has coordinated a variety of trainings on topics such as fentanyl dangers and human trafficking. Each of these trainings focuses on bringing awareness, harm reduction and prevention strategies and meaningful resources.
Savanna’s Act and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative
In 2022, the Savanna’s Act was implemented to address disturbing data showing that Native American women are particularly vulnerable to violence. Our office is actively collaborating with law enforcement and the various tribal communities to create protocols that improve the law enforcement response and communication whenever our community learns of a missing Native American.
In response to issues concerning Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) in Indian Country, the Attorney General launched a national strategy to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP Initiative). The MMIP Initiative is a coordinated effort involving creating a Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives (also known as "Operation Lady Justice") that broadened the federal government's response to MMIP issues.
There are 11 MMIP Coordinators in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices with Indian Country who, working with the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, are developing MMIP best practices and investigative protocols. These Coordinators will support and coordinate with every U.S. Attorney’s Office on MMIP issues and investigations. Each office also designates a MMIP Point of Contact (POC) to receive information about MMIP issues, respond to inquiries about specific MMIP investigations, and coordinate with law enforcement in the district.
Tribal Liaison AUSA Hoang is the MMIP Point of Contact for our office.