Knoxville, Tenn. – Two years ago, the 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.
Throughout the past two years, we have 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 Uniform Crime Report released this week, the violent crime rate decreased for the second consecutive year, down 3.9 percent from the 2017 numbers.
“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.”
As we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of PSN actions in the Eastern District of Tennessee (TNE) over the past year:
The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) collaborates with the police departments of Chattanooga, Knoxville, Morristown, and Johnson City, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, federal law enforcement agencies that include the ATF, FBI, DEA, ICE, U.S. Marshals Service, and District Attorneys General from Hamilton County, Knox County, Washington County, and Hamblen County to reduce violent crime. Based on detailed analysis of violent crime data, these partners work together to prosecute the most violent offenders and disrupt gang violence.
In September of 2018, the USAO, in conjunction with our federal and local partners in Chattanooga, met with the U.S. Marshall Service to bring their Triple Beam initiative to Chattanooga. This initiative involved planning a six-week fugitive round-up from late October through December that targetedviolent fugitives who were gang members.This operation was responsible for the arrest of 126 people and seizure of seven firearms during the operation.
The USAOcollaborates with cities to bring together community organizations and faith-based organizations to offer social services to gang members and other potentially violent individuals in an attempt to ease re-entry into society and prevent future violence.
Improvements to Community Safety
- For the second consecutive year, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased when compared with the previous year’s statistics, according to FBI figures released today. In 2018, the number of violent crimes was down 3.3 percent from the 2017 number.
- The 2018 statistics also show the estimated rate of violent crime was 368.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate fell 3.9 percent when compared with the 2017 rate.
- As of September, in 2018 criminal homicides had decreased in Chattanooga by 61% compared to that same period in 2017, including a 53% drop in gang-related homicides.
- From 2017 through 2018, TNE’sfirearm cases filed increased from 195 to 257, which is higher than the national average of 187 filed in large districts. Similarly, TNE’s firearm defendants increased from 250 to 355, which is also higher than the 229 average defendants for large districts during that same period of time.
- From 2017 through 2018, TNE’s reported a 32% increase in firearm cases filed as well asa 42% increase in number of firearm defendants.
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. The Department of Justice 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. To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.