Project Safe Neighborhoods: Grant funding to reduce violent gang and gun crime

Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative

Not a week goes by in which the words “Hey, I need…..” are not spoken by someone in law enforcement. Departments from all across the United States are searching for funds to purchase armored vehicles, intelligence databases, robots, and personal protective gear, or they are in need of funds to attend various training programs. Many of these items are eligible expenditures through the Project Safe Neighborhoods Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gang and gun crime and providing these programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to this initiative. This funding is being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, distribute gun lock safety kits, deter juvenile gun crime, and develop and promote community outreach efforts as well as to support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.

The FY 2011 funding allocation is approximately $9.5 million, a reduction of $2.3 million from FY2010. Each United States Attorney (USA) is responsible for establishing a collaborative PSN task force of federal, state, and local law enforcement and other community members to implement gang and gun crime enforcement, intervention and prevention initiatives within their district. Awards will be made for a period of up to 24 months.

The USA’s Office must complete an application on behalf of their district by July 21, 2011 to receive the allocated amount posted on the Bureau of Justice Assistance website.

PSN funding can be used to address critical law enforcement officer safety concerns related to PSN target areas and activities. This includes identifying specific officer safety threats related to PSN targets and activities, addressing such threats through improved analytic capabilities locally or through the relevant state and local fusion center, improved situational awareness and information sharing, providing needed training, and protective equipment for state, local and tribal officers not otherwise available. Applicants must demonstrate a direct connection to PSN in order for these expenses to be considered.

Grant awards for this FY 2011 program are based on a formula, however in future years, if funds are appropriated, grant awards will be made through a competitive process to encourage and focus funding in high-performing and evidence-based programs where the need is greatest.

The FY 2011 PSN funding opportunity is designed to encourage the transition of PSN to a more effective, intelligence- and data-driven strategy in local communities. Funding allocated in FY 2011 should be used to make this transition so that when the program becomes competitive in FY 2012, districts will be better positioned to compete for funding on the basis of successful implementation of the core PSN strategies.

In a competitive environment, “need” and use of more effective, intelligence and data-driven strategies will be key drivers for funding selections, in addition to performance results and other factors.

There are five PSN design features that all PSN grant applicants should address in their application. The five design features are:

  1. Partnerships
  2. Strategic Planning and Research Integration
  3. Training
  4. Outreach
  5. Accountability and Data-Driven Efforts

Departments are encouraged to contact their district USA Office (USAO) to learn of the local strategies to address gang and gun-related crimes, as well as to engage in the current efforts. The true test of this initiative will be determining whether or not a community has a gang/gun problem when there is less money on the table. Funding reductions demonstrate that it is imperative to set priorities based upon regional efforts, versus a single jurisdiction philosophy. Existing budgets cannot support the duplication of resources, therefore district leaders are asked to provide mutual aid and share resources with neighboring areas, whenever possible.

To have a more competitive edge, departments should document existing issues, identify tools to address the issues, and partner with other agencies that have a vested interest in seeing that the PSN-related programs succeed.

Don’t wait to make the call, now is the time to communicate with the USAO as the July 21st deadline is quickly approaching.
For more information on the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, go to psn.gov or contact your U. S. Attorney’s Office http://www.justice.gov/usao/about/usa-map.html

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