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Justice News

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst Announces Significant Progress in Making our Communities Safer through Project Safe Neighborhoods and Project EJECT

Almost 100 Criminals Taken Off Streets of Jackson; 167 Fewer Violent Crimes in Jackson Since Last Year

Jackson, Miss. - In October 2017, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods ("PSN"), which Attorney General Jeff 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.

Throughout the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has partnered with all levels of law enforcement, faith-based organizations, non-profits, neighborhood associations, 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."

"Project EJECT has positively impacted the City of Jackson. By working together, we have taken almost 100 criminals and numerous illegal guns off our streets in less than a year, empowered our citizens through education and feedback, and reduced violent crime in our Capitol City by over 16% since this time last year. I want to commend the Jackson Police Department, FBI, ATF, Hinds County District Attorney’s Office, other federal and state law enforcement partners, and our non-law enforcement allies, as this unprecedented partnership has had a significant, positive effect on the lives of our citizens. In the months ahead, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will expand our fight against violent crime throughout the rest of the Southern District of Mississippi and tirelessly work to keep our communities safe," said U.S. Attorney Hurst.

"If we expect Jackson and the surrounding metropolitan area to be a viable option for our children and their future, then we need to work diligently to reduce not only violence in general but violence committed with a firearm," said Christopher Freeze, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Jackson Division. "We will leverage the full resources of the FBI to provide a long term solution to dramatically reduce violent crime in the city of Jackson, and create a safer place today and for our children in the future."

"ATF is committed to reducing violent crime in our neighborhoods, and we accomplish this through strong partnerships with our federal, state, local partners and the community all working together to ensure the safety of our streets, our families and our children," said ATF New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Dana Nichols. "The message and mission today is very clear. We will no longer tolerate the senseless violence and criminal activity in our communities. Everyone wants and deserves to live in a safe neighborhood."

"Project EJECT inflicted a debilitating blow to the network of drug traffickers and violent criminals in the city of Jackson and beyond. This year-long project continues a deliberate and strategic effort to cut off and shut down the supply of drugs and guns entering our city and is a milestone in our tireless assault on these violent drug traffickers. The results of Project EJECT clearly demonstrate the combined strength that federal, state, and local agencies, both in law enforcement and civilian, bring to bear in the battle to keep our neighborhoods safe," said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge J. Derryle Smith.

"Our office has received more support under the administration of President Donald J. Trump than any other administration. The Hinds County District Attorney looks forward to a continued, healthy partnership to enhance the quality of life, welfare and safety of the citizens of Hinds County, Mississippi," announced Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s PSN actions over the past year:

I. Enforcement Actions

On December 7, 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office formally launched Project EJECT with approximately 70 leaders from law enforcement, faith-based groups, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, and businesses, as well as concerned citizens. Project EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime in Jackson through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness. EJECT stands for "Empower Jackson Expel Crime Together."

• In less than one year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has made significant strides in fighting and reducing violent crime throughout the City of Jackson:

o Almost 100 individuals have been indicted and arrested for various federal crimes in and around Jackson, ranging from carjacking to illegally possessing firearms to robbing local businesses

o Almost half (48) of those indicted have already pled guilty or been found guilty

o Approximately 98% percent of those arrested have been detained while awaiting trial

o Sentencings for these criminals have ranged from 13 to 320 months, with the average sentence being 75 months (over 6 years in federal prison).

• In June 2018, the U.S. Marshals Service’s Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force and its law enforcement partners completed a six-week-long violence reduction initiative in the Southern District of Mississippi known as "Operation Triple Beam," resulting in the arrests of 270 individuals for various crimes, including approximately 90 gang members, as well as the seizure of 50 firearms, including military style assault rifles, illegal narcotics valued at approximately $7,500, and approximately $26,000 in cash. This was the first time the U.S. Marshals had ever conducted an Operation Triple Beam throughout an entire U.S. Attorney’s district and, at the time, was believed to be one of the most successful Operation Triple Beams of this scale that the Marshals had ever executed since the program began in 2010.

II. Community Partnerships and Engagement

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has made it a priority to empower and engage various communities in Jackson by bringing prevention presentations to high school kids, hosting town hall meetings around the City, and partnering with schools to read and tutor to elementary kids.

• Assistant U.S. Attorneys and special agents have been presenting the L.E.A.D. ("Legal Enrichment and Decision Making") Program in various Jackson public high schools and after-school clubs. The L.E.A.D. Program is an initiative to teach children that the choices they make today can affect their lives and the lives of others forever. At the end, youth signed a "Students Against Gun Violence" pledge, whereby students promised never to bring a gun to school, never to use a gun to settle a personal problem or dispute, and to use their influence to keep friends from settling disputes with guns.

• The United States Attorney’s Office, along with its law enforcement partners, held several town hall meetings throughout the City of Jackson to discuss Project EJECT and solicit input from the community.

• Employees of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are partnering with a local church through its "Book Buddy" Program to tutor third graders at a local Jackson elementary school.

III. Improvements to Community Safety

• Despite two consecutive, historic increases in violent crime from 2014-2016, the FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that, 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.

• According to recent COMSTAT reports from the Jackson Police Department, dated September 16, 2018, the violent crime rate in the City of Jackson has fallen 16.6% since this time last year. Based on these COMSTAT numbers, since this time last year, there were:

o 131 fewer aggravated assaults (down 7.2%)

o 87 fewer armed robberies (down 23.2%)

o 41 fewer carjackings (down 58.6%)

o 26 fewer rapes (down 28.3%)

• Attorney General Sessions awarded the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi 5 new federal prosecutors, 4 of whom will specifically tackle violent crime throughout the district and one whom will focus on affirmative civil enforcement. These new prosecutors, who are just now coming on board, will allow the U.S. Attorney’s Office to greatly expand its crime fighting efforts throughout the entire district.

• The Department of Justice recently awarded the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi $177,361 in grant funding to continue combatting violent crime under PSN.

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.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated October 11, 2018