U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez

 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.”

“We are proud of the dedication and hard work by our law enforcement and community partners as we strive to reduce crime throughout our district,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. “Project Safe Neighborhoods only works when we enlist the support, expertise, and perspectives of our law enforcement partners and the community. Together, we will continue to make our communities safer places to live, work, and play.” 

As we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of our PSN actions over the past year:

The U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to work with federal, state, and local partners to implement PSN throughout the Middle District of Florida. These coordinated efforts ensure that federal efforts are focused against the most violent offenders.

  • Beginning in December 2018, a long-term investigation of a violent drug trafficking organization known as the “Bird Gang,” operating primarily in Tampa, has culminated in the indictment of 26 individuals charged with various federal firearms and drug offenses. Since the arrests, no reported shootings have occurred in the neighborhood where the gang had operated.
  • In May 2019, Jacksonville’s new Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) officially opened. CGIC is a collaborative effort among the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Several individuals have already been arrested and indicted as a result of leads generated from CGIC.
  • As part of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Operation Triple Beam, Ft. Myers PSN efforts resulted in more than 120 arrests involving firearms, drugs, and violent crime.

Community Partnerships

Community engagement is a critical component in the successful implementation of PSN. The USAO-MDFL frequently engages diverse stakeholders in providing training, prevention, intervention, and reentry strategies and programs. Some recent activities include:

  • National Night Out and Coffee with a Cop
  • Great American Teach-In
  • Preventing Targeted School Violence
  • Federal Reentry Courts and Local Networks (Tampa; Orlando; Jacksonville)
  • Engagement with more than 10,600 citizens

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.
  • According to the recently released FBI Uniform Crime Report, the violent crime rate decreased for several cities in the Middle District of Florida. The 2018 statistics show the greater Tampa Bay region’s estimated rate of violent crime was 306 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. This represents an 8 percent reduction in the violent crime rate when compared with the 2017 rate. Ft Myers saw a reduction of 9 percent and Jacksonville had a reduction of almost 6 percent.