United States Attorney announces efforts to fight violent crime in Rapides Parish through firearms prosecutions
ALEXANDRIA, La. – United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced today a new effort underway to reduce violent crime in the Rapides Parish area by partnering with federal, local and state law enforcement through the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program.
Mr. Joseph’s focus on violent crime is part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing efforts to increase targeted prosecutions of violent crime through the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. It is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. In the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana has prosecuted more than 200 defendants throughout the district, many of which have been in the Alexandria area, for firearm related offenses, including felons and drug dealers in possession of firearms.
In Rapides Parish, this focus includes sending law enforcement into the communities to conduct what are referred to as knock and talks. Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office joined with the ATF, FBI, Louisiana State Police, Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office, Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Police Department, Pineville Police Department, and Louisiana Probation and Parole to promote public safety in areas that have seen an increase in violent crime. By increasing the visibility of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, they will inform citizens of prevention and deterrence efforts, as well as services available to the public.
Another avenue of prosecution that Joseph’s office is focused on, is cases arising from individuals submitting false information on forms at gun shops, pawnshops, sporting goods stores, or any retail establishment where firearms are sold, in order to purchase a firearm illegally for themselves or for someone else. It is a felony under federal law for someone to lie on a background check form to try to hide past criminal convictions or protective orders, and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This year, the U.S. Attorney’s office has charged eight individuals in U.S. District Court with felony charges for making false statements during purchases of firearms.
“The aim of these prosecutions is to remove the most violent and dangerous offenders from our streets,” Joseph stated. ”We stand with our law enforcement partners in confronting head-on, the violence, gun crime and drug abuse that plaque our communities. We will not be deterred, and we will continue to step up the pressure on the bad actors. Our message is clear, if you threaten the safety and security of our communities, you face the very real prospect of going to federal prison.”
The Western District of Louisiana consists of 42 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes and encompasses two-thirds of the State of Louisiana. This area covers the cities of Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport.