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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 3, 2019

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

FBI Uniform Crime Report Shows 3.9 Drop in Violent Crime in 2018

Two years ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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.

Throughout the past two years, 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.   According to FBI’s Uniform Crime Report released this week, the violent crime rate decreased for the second consecutive year, down 3.9 percent from the 2017 numbers.

“The revitalized Project Safe Neighborhoods program is a major success,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “It packs a powerful punch by combining advanced data with local leadership, further reducing violence in communities across the country and improving overall public safety. U.S. Attorneys continue to focus their enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals and work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal police. The Justice Department’s relationships across the board have never been stronger.”

U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan stated, “By reinforcing and amplifying our law enforcement and public partnerships we are able to combat the violent threats to our safety, security and well-being.  The revitalized Project Safe Neighborhoods program exemplifies the impact of our collective strategies that target the most egregious offenders, reinvigorate our neighborhoods, and support our returning citizens.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida applauds our collaborative and effective efforts to protect, educate and connect with our local residents.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida amplifies the enforcement and community impact of PSN through the locally-based Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP).  In South Florida, PSN uses a holistic, community-based approach to violence reduction that focuses on enforcement, prevention, and the successful reentry of returning citizens into our vibrant neighborhoods.

As we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of our PSN actions over the past year:

Enforcement Actions

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida continues to partner with federal, state and local law enforcement to target the most violent offenders, felons in possession of firearms and ammunition, and those who threaten the safety and security of our local communities.

 

Community Partnerships

In addition to our united law enforcement efforts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida remains committed to community outreach and crime prevention initiatives that can help to make our communities safer.

  • Drug Education For Youth (DEFY)/VRP Leadership Summer Camp: This week-long, overnight camp provides at-risk youth, ages 9-12 years, with the self-esteem, leadership and teamwork tools needed to resist drugs, gangs, violent behavior, bullying, and cyberbullying.  This summer, more than 50 youth attended the camp, from areas including: Homestead, Overtown, Goulds, Miami Gardens, Pompano and Lake Worth. More than 800 kids have attended the camp, since 2004.  https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/us-attorney-s-office-and-community-partners-sponsor-drug-educationviolence-reduction
  • Pre-K Reading Program: During monthly reading sessions, governmental, law enforcement and public sector volunteers connect with early learners (3 to 5 year olds) at child-care centers and elementary schools in high-crime areas. At the end of every reading session, each child is given a book to take home.  Since its inception in 2013, the VRP Reading Program has expanded to 24 schools throughout the Southern District of Florida.  On a monthly basis, the U.S. Attorney’s Office staff and volunteers read and distribute books to over 1,200 children districtwide. Since 2014, the VRP has given out more than 47,340 books to local children. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/violence-reduction-partnerships
  • Project Sentry and Project Safe Childhood: During interactive programs, volunteers teach students to avoid violence by recognizing dangers in the community, reporting problems and peacefully resolving issues.  The Project Sentry program focuses on guns, gangs, and violence deterrence, while Project Safe Childhood educates the youth regarding bullying, cyberbullying, and internet safety.  The programs are approved in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County schools.
  • Making Smarter Choices Fieldtrips: Volunteers speak to middle school students, who visit the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Miami federal courthouses, about the importance of “Making Smarter Choices.”   During the program, students participate in mock trial exercises.
  • Peace Ambassadors Leadership Program: The Peace Ambassadors Leadership Program empowers high school juniors to be "change agents" in their family, school, and community.  Academic excellence, courage, character, compassion, self-esteem, and personal responsibility are championed.
  • United Way Reading Pals Program: During the academic year, volunteers read to and mentor Pre-K students at the Culmer Head Start Preschool in Overtown.

 

  • Monthly Community Resource Fairs and Food Distribution Programs:  The programs provide free food and essential services to local residents.

 

  • Reentry Simulations:
    • In Aug. 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office supported two Reentry Simulation Programs at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Miami that enabled federal inmates to experience some of the real-life barriers and obstacles that they might face as returning citizen
    • In March 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida hosted the second annual Reentry Simulation at the Salvation Army’s Northwest Community Center in West Palm Beach.  More than 120 community members, officials and stakeholders attended the event, which simulated the struggles and challenges faced by individuals who are transitioning from incarceration back into society.  https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/us-attorney-s-office-hosts-second-annual-reentry-simulation

Improvements to Community Safety

  • For the second consecutive year, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased when compared with the previous year’s statistics, according to FBI figures released today. In 2018, the number of violent crimes was down 3.3 percent from the 2017 number.
  • The 2018 statistics also show the estimated rate of violent crime was 368.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate fell 3.9 percent when compared with the 2017 rate.
  • In 2018, the City of Miami had the lowest number of homicides since 1967. 

 

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. The Department of Justice 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. To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.

Additional information regarding the VRP initiatives is available at usafls.vrp@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail) or by calling (305) 961-9134.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated October 3, 2019