US Attorney Blader Marks 2nd Anniversary of Revitalization of Project Safe Neighborhoods
MADISON, WIS. - Two years ago, the U.S. 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.
In the Western District of Wisconsin, the area of emphasis for Project Safe Neighborhoods is the City of Madison and surrounding communities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office works with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, the Madison Police Department, the Dane County Sheriff’s Department, other area law enforcement agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a coordinated and collaborative effort to identify and prosecute the most violent offenders – those who commit violent crimes with firearms and felons found in possession of firearms.
Throughout the past two years, the U.S. Department of Justice has 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 2018 Crime in the United States Report released this week, the violent crime rate decreased for the second consecutive year, down 3.9 percent from the 2017 numbers. In the City of Madison, shots fired calls between January and August 2019 decreased 32% from the same timeframe in 2018. Robberies and burglaries each decreased 37% in August 2019 from their numbers in August 2018.
“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.”
“My office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively address violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Blader. “Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, we are ensuring that violent offenders are being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to meet our obligation to make our communities safer.”
Some examples of recent PSN cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office include:
- Jeffrey Parker pleaded guilty yesterday to robbing the Summit Credit Union in Portage, Wisconsin, on August 16, 2019. After the robbery, Parker led law enforcement on a high speed chase into Madison, during which Parker sped through a stoplight, striking and overturning a Federal Express truck. Parker faces 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on December 17, 2019.
- David A. Kelly was sentenced in May to 54 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Kelly brandished a firearm at a group of people, threatening to kill them. Kelly had been convicted in Dane County Circuit Court four days prior to the incident for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and he also has three prior felony drug convictions.
- Jonathan Thompson, Kiefah Marbra, and Robert Minette were convicted of a series of bank robberies that occurred in Madison, Middleton, Sun Prairie, and Fitchburg in January and February 2018. During these bank robberies, the suspects brandished handguns, pointing them at bank employees and customers. Thompson, the ringleader, was sentenced to 22 years, while Marbra was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison, and Minette was sentenced to nine years.
The PSN efforts in Madison are complemented by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The SIU works with serial offenders as they re-enter the community. Representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement, and faith-based community members hold meetings with recently released offenders. The offenders are offered assistance in finding housing and employment, and they are told that if they commit additional crimes, they will be prosecuted and that the sentencing judge will know they chose not to embrace the services offered to them.
To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.