PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that The Department of Justice has awarded more than $17.5 million in grants to support the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. Funding will support efforts across the country to address violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core. Locally, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency was awarded $282,428 to administer PSN grant funds in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), part of the department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), will administer the 88 grant awards, which are being made to designated fiscal agents to support local PSN projects that work in partnership with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.
“This announcement and grant funding from the Department of Justice could not come at a better time for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and specifically for Philadelphia – a city that is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “A great deal of ink has been spilled in the last few weeks by many as we all struggle to identify and combat the reasons behind the city’s record number of homicides this past year. In 2021, this Office has steadfastly pledged our support and partnership in myriad ways to the local agencies tasked with investigating and prosecuting violent criminals, including our ‘All Hands on Deck’ initiative and the recently announced DOJ-OJP Public Safety Partnership. While it may be the purview of others to debate the reasons why violence remains so intractable in Philadelphia, our job remains the same: prosecuting criminals and deterring future unlawful acts. With this grant from the Department, the PSN program in our District will continue to be an important tool in accomplishing that mission.”
Grant funds will support the PSN strategy within the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the continuation of Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys (SAUSA) handling firearms cases, with the goal of disrupting drug and firearm trafficking operations in and around Philadelphia. SAUSAs are cross-designated prosecutors from partner agencies at the state and local levels who focus on violent crime cases in specific geographic areas. More broadly, the PSN strategy also includes prosecution of all types of federal violent crime, including but not limited to, Hobbs Act robberies, car-jackings, murder-for-hire, armed robberies, and firearms trafficking.
“This latest Project Safe Neighborhoods grant is critical to addressing the violent crime threatening cities and towns all across our country,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Ensuring the safety of all Americans is the highest priority for the Department of Justice, but when it comes to violent crime, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We have to work closely with local public safety agencies as well as community organizations to craft individual strategies unique to each community’s needs. Programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods and the funding it provides allow us to do just that.”
“Investing in our communities, supporting victims and building a justice system that both keeps people safe and earns their trust – these are mutually reinforcing goals that stand at the heart of Project Safe Neighborhoods,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon for OJP. “The Office of Justice Programs is pleased to join with our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and with jurisdictions across the country, as we work together to meet the challenges of crime and violence and achieve our shared aspirations of public safety and community trust.”
In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new effort to reduce violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core. Integral to that effort was the reinvigoration of PSN, a two-decade old evidence-based and community-oriented program focused on reducing violent crime. The updated PSN approach, outlined in the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime issued by Deputy Attorney General Monaco, is guided by four key principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results of our efforts. The fundamental goal is to reduce violent crime, not simply to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions.
This fall, U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country have enhanced their violent crime reduction efforts to ensure alignment with the department’s comprehensive violent crime reduction strategy. U.S. Attorneys’ Offices have engaged in outreach to law enforcement and other agencies and organizations serving communities to identify the most significant drivers of violence in their districts. Working together with a broad coalition of stakeholders, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are addressing the most pressing violent crime issues in their district to make our neighborhoods safer for all.
PSN programs are led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in collaboration with local public safety agencies, community stakeholders and other agencies and organizations that work to reduce violent crime.
For a list of all grantees, please visit: https://www.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh241/files/media/document/FY21-Project-Safe-Neighborhoods-Awards.pdf
Information about these and other FY 2021 grant awards from the Office of Justice Programs can be found online at the OJP Grant Awards Page.
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