Safe Neighborhoods Project Progresses in One Year
By Ana Gomez Salcido
One year ago, 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.
This program focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. PSN brings together a wide array of community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.
In the Southern District of California, the PSN program operates primarily as a collaboration between the United States Attorney’s Office and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
Utilizing intelligence from both local and federal law enforcement, these two prosecutorial offices work to determine which jurisdiction, state or federal, will be able to provide the greatest impact for the community. In the past year, the PSN partnership has frequently resulted in the deployment of federal enforcement resources against violent offenders who might face a much smaller sanction in state court.
Nationally, the FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that the violent crime rate decreased by approximately one percent in 2017, while the homicide rate decreased by nearly one and a half percent.
Locally, San Diego has achieved its lowest crime rate in the past 49 years and we had the lowest violent crime rate of America’s largest cities last year. A recent report by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) indicates that guns are used less often in violent crimes in San Diego than the national average.
“San Diego’s violent crime rate was the lowest of every major city in the nation last year due to effective partnerships,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Adam Braverman. “Our federal prosecutors work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement agencies to successfully prosecute significant cases involving guns, drugs and gangs and to collaborate on evidence-based prevention efforts. This approach has delivered clear results in the form of safer neighborhoods.”
Between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018, cases designated and prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office under the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program rose 75 percent, from approximately 79 cases in 2017 to 139 cases in fiscal year 2018. These increases occurred at the same time as the United States Attorney’s Office increased the number of cases brought in other priority areas including narcotics trafficking and immigration enforcement. Efforts to increase prosecutions for fiscal year 2019 are already underway.