Senate Passes Cornyn, Peters Bill to Reduce Violent Crime Through Project Safe Neighborhoods Program
by John Cornyn on May 18, 2018 at 4:33 PM
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and me, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2018, which would authorize a nationwide law enforcement program focused on the reduction of violent crime. A companion bill sponsored by U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) unanimously passed the House of Representatives in March.
I learned from my time as Texas Attorney General that one of the keys to reducing crime rates and fighting violent crime in Texas is fostering partnerships and developing task forces between federal, state, and local law enforcement. The Project Safe Neighborhoods program gives law enforcement on all levels the tools they need to collaborate, reduce violent crime, and keep our children safe.
“It is critical that we do all we can to help communities in Michigan who have seen firsthand the toll of gun violence and drug crimes,” said Sen. Peters. “Project Safe Neighborhoods has worked with law enforcement and the communities they serve to create measurable results in Michigan by decreasing violence and crime throughout the state. I’m pleased that the Senate has approved this bill, so Project Safe Neighborhoods can continue to make communities safer in Michigan and around the country.”
Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors that uses evidence-based and data-driven approaches to reduce violent crime. Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, multiple law enforcement agencies cooperate and focus their enforcement efforts on the organized criminal networks and repeat offenders that are driving the crime rates in a particular region. Project Safe Neighborhoods also works to build trust and partnerships between law enforcement and the communities they serve through coordinated outreach, public awareness, innovative tactics, and collaborative interventions. Since its inception in 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods has been successfully deployed by both Democratic and Republican administrations to reduce violent crime in large cities and smaller communities across the country. According to a Michigan State University study funded by the Department of Justice in 2013, Project Safe Neighborhoods was associated with a 13.1% decrease in violent crime in cities with a high-rate of program participation—including double-digit reductions in total firearms crime and homicides in every city examined by the study.
Specifically, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2018:
- Authorizes the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program for Fiscal Years 2019-2021 at $50 million—consistent with current appropriations levels.
- Requires participating entities to creates and implement strategic plans to reduce violent crimes by focusing on criminal organizations and individuals responsible for increasing violence in a particular jurisdiction.
- Prioritizes the investigation and prosecution of individuals who have an aggravating or leadership role in a criminal organization.
- Strengthens evidence-based, trauma-informed and data-driven intervention and prevention initiatives, including juvenile justice projects, street-level outreach, conflict mediation, the provision of treatment and social services, and improving community anti-violence norms.
- Reserves 30% of funding for established regional law enforcement task forces
- Allows funds to be used for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, evidence base programs to reduce gun crime and gang violence, community-based violence prevention initiatives, and violence education, prevention, and intervention programs.
The following organizations support Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2018: the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Criminal Justice Association, and the National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition.