Feds award nearly $6 million in grants to fight gangs, gun violence

Project Safe Neighborhoods pairs law enforcement with community members in an effort to reduce gang participation and violence. (Photo: The Orange County Register.)

Project Safe Neighborhoods pairs law enforcement with community members in an effort to reduce gang participation and violence. (Photo: The Orange County Register)

Project Safe Neighborhoods will receive $5.7 million in federal grants to fund efforts aimed at curbing gang violence and gun crime, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Courtesy of the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance, the grants will expand the project’s initiative to reducing street violence through enforcement and community outreach.

Cities in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio and Texas received $500,000. Municipalities in North Carolina, Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Indiana received $300,000 while those in Tennessee, Nebraska as well as Louisiana State University were awarded $150,000.

Led by U.S. Attorney’s Office, Project Safe Neighborhoods teams local, state and federal officers with communities to implement enforcement, intervention and prevention strategies. In addition to fighting crime, the project supports researchers who collect data regarding local street violence.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch called programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods imperative in the fight against guns and gangs.

“Gang violence and gun crime are two of the most formidable obstacles we face in ensuring that every American lives in safe and secure communities,” she said in a statement and described the project as helping “make meaningful strides towards ending violence, promoting peace, and restoring hope.”

While overall crime has been on the decline in the U.S. since the mid-1990s, the estimated number of gangs has steadily increased. According to research conducted by the FBI, street gang membership jumped as much as 49 percent from 2013 to 2015 in some jurisdictions.

And some communities continue to struggle because of that increase, said Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason. “The funding … gives these jurisdictions the resources they need to improve outreach and education, prosecute gun and gang cases, and restore peace to their streets and homes,” she said.

Since its inception in 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods has been awarded approximately $2 billion in government funding.