CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Will Thompson announced today that the Justice Department has awarded $1,755,887 to West Virginia as part of the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program. This investment in community safety is authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, historic legislation to address and reduce gun violence.
The funding will help the state develop and staff a new advisory board known as the West Virginia Crisis Intervention Advisory Board, to inform and guide the state’s related gun violence reduction programs and initiatives. This board will include representatives from law enforcement, the community, courts, prosecution, behavioral health providers, victim services, and legal counsel.
“This award will support a collaborative partnership with an overall goal of reducing gun-related violence throughout the state, including the Southern District of West Virginia,” Thompson said. “The funding will help the advisory board assess such evidence-based strategies as extreme risk protection order (ERPO) programs, behavioral health deflection, and drug, mental health, and veterans’ treatment courts.”
The Justice and Community Services (JCS) Section of the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services (DAS) successfully applied for the award, as the State Administrative Agency (SAA) for criminal justice-related activities in the state. The award is part of an announced investment of over $231 million nationally that will fund state crisis intervention court proceedings, including but not limited to, extreme risk protection order (ERPO) programs that work to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others.
These awards, administered by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), provide funding to states for the creation and implementation of extreme risk protection order programs, state crisis intervention court proceedings, and related gun violence reduction initiatives. Extreme risk protection order programs empower family members, health care providers, school officials and law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily prevent a person from accessing firearms if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others. Funds can also support interventions like drug, mental health and veterans’ treatment courts, gun violence recovery courts, behavior health deflection and outpatient treatment centers.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also seeks to ensure that extreme risk protection order laws and programs are implemented in accordance with the Constitution and provide for adequate due process protections. Projects funded under this program will need to demonstrate that they have taken measures to safeguard the constitutional rights of an individual subject to a crisis intervention program or ERPO initiative. The Justice Department has long supported state efforts to increase the use of ERPOs and in 2021 the Department released model legislation to help states create their own extreme risk protection order systems and provide for intervention before warning signs turn into tragedy.
Signed into law by President Biden in June 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is the most significant piece of federal gun safety legislation in almost three decades and comes as a response to recent mass shootings and to the far more common, but no less tragic, incidents of community gun violence. Including the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program, the law allocates a total of $1.4 billion to OJP over five years to develop, implement, and sustain meaningful investments in safer communities.
For a full list of awards, please visit: https://data.ojp.usdoj.gov/stories/s/O-BJA-2023-171458/b5xz-as5z. These awards are the latest effort from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs to implement this historic legislation.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.