Top law enforcement officials and prosecutors joined together today
to announce that they are working together to combat criminals with guns in an
initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods.
At a press conference in South Los Angeles, participants in Project Safe
Neighborhoods (PSN) committed their resources and expertise to continue to target
gun crimes in two law enforcement sectors – the Los Angeles Police Department’s
77th Street Division and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Century Station –
as well as in other parts of the Los Angeles area. The announcement was made at a
symbolic location at the corner of 85th Street and Central Avenue, which is the
dividing line between the 77th Street Station and the Century Station, and is also
across the street from a restaurant where a gang-related shooting in August took
the lives of two people.
As part of PSN in Los Angeles County, federal law enforcement agents have been
working with LAPD officers and LASD deputies to arrest criminals who use guns and
those who lead violent criminal gangs. Federal and state prosecutors are
coordinating efforts to ensure that these criminals receive the longest sentences
Under PSN, the federal government is giving grants totaling well over $1 million to
pay for increased law enforcement and prosecutorial efforts against gun crimes.
Grants are also going to community-based organizations that work to help prevent
youth from becoming involved in gun violence.
To publicize the increased attention PSN is bringing to gun crimes, the Los Angeles
Police Department, working with a local video production company, has developed
public service announcements that will be broadcast on television and will be
displayed on billboards in the neighborhoods covered by the project.
Coming together to announce PSN today were:
* Debra W. Yang, the United States Attorney in Los Angeles, whose office has
dedicated several prosecutors to handle gun prosecutions in federal court.
* Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. The LAPD has received $150,000 in grant
funds to be used for media outreach, and is receiving $142,500 to fund
investigations and the salary of an LAPD Officer who will work with the ATF to
develop cases based on tracing of crime guns.
* Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Chief Michael Nagaoka. The LASD is also
receiving $142,500 in grant funds to support investigations and the salary of a
sheriff’s deputy to be assigned to work with the ATF to develop cases based on
tracing of crime guns.
* Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. The District Attorney’s Office
is receiving $140,355 in grant funds to pay the salary of a Deputy District Attorney
who will vertically prosecute gun cases arising in the target neighborhoods.
* Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. The City Attorney’s Office is
receiving $133,390 in grant funds to pay the salary of a Deputy City Attorney who
will be assigned to prosecute gun cases arising in the target neighborhoods and will
be cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney to follow some of
these cases to federal court.
* FBI Assistant Director in Charge Ronald Iden, whose office is investigating some
of Southern California’s most violent street gangs.
* ATF Special Agent in Charge Don Kincaid, whose office has recently implemented
innovations such as the Southern California Regional Crime Gun Center, which
provides law enforcement with “one-stop shopping” for information on guns used in
* DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge John Fernandes, who said his office is fully
committed to its partnership with state, local and other federal officials to defend
the community against drugs and drug-related gang violence.
* Debbie A. Nelson, director of the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s
Specialized Enforcement Operations, whose division will be using $200,000 in federal
grant funds to support intensive supervision of juveniles in the hopes of deterring
future criminal conduct.
* Other agencies participating in PSN are: IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Small
Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the Department of Housing and
Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, the Department of Agriculture’s
Office of Inspector General, the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement, and
the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General.
* Additionally, PSN is being supported by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, who said
that additional resources and strong interagency partnerships established by Project
Safe Neighborhoods will enable us to reduce random acts of gun violence and restore
the quality of life for our residents.
* At the center of PSN is a coordinated effort to aggressively investigate gun
offenses and then determine the best forum for prosecution. While there are lengthy
sentences associated with federal gun offenses – for example, carrying a gun during
a crime of violence carries a mandatory five-year federal prison term that runs
consecutively to the sentence for the underlying crime – California has strong gun
laws, as well as the “three-strikes” law which applies to some criminals.
* “Fortunately, violent crimes have been on the downswing for over a decade,” said
United States Attorney Debra W. Yang. “Today, the overall crime rate is at a 32-year
low. But there is still too much killing, too much violence, too many criminals
walking around with firearms. Project Safe Neighborhoods places a special focus on
solving that problem. When the president proposed PSN, he charged all U.S. Attorneys
to implement this initiative. Today, I am pleased to present it to the public.”
* District Attorney Steve Cooley said: “Historically, the District Attorney’s
Office prosecutes 60,000 felonies a year and 240,000 misdemeanors. Despite the
incredible volume of cases, our office has done a solid job in aggressively
prosecuting a wide variety of gun-related cases. We’re grateful for the additional
help, particularly in these stressful budgetary times and the loss of 10 percent of
our prosecutors over the past two years.”
* According to Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo: “The Project Safe
Neighborhoods grant represents a smart investment in the safety and security of Los
Angeles residents. My office will use these resources to ensure that the residents
of South Los Angeles are free from the terrible gun violence that for too long has
caused them to face crime and death. Through our continued efforts, we will work to
ensure a brighter and safer future for our residents.”
* Donald Kincaid, who is the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, stated: “Project Safe Neighborhoods is one of
ATF’s top national priorities. In Southern California, ATF’s collaborative efforts
with its PSN partners – along with various, interrelated investments and
initiatives, such as the GREAT program, the YCGII program, the NIBIN program, the
ACES West task force and the Southern California Regional Crime Gun Center – have
begun to pay significant dividends.”
* FBI Assistant Director in Charge Ronald Iden said: “In 1992, the FBI formed the
Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Crimes (LAMTFVC), and many of the
task force member agencies are represented here today. Since the inception of
LAMTFVC, 2,250 violent gang members have been arrested. We look forward to using the
experience gained over the last decade as we participate in PSN. The FBI also wishes
to state clearly that, while we are putting new resources into the fight against
terrorism, we will continue to dedicate substantial personnel and resources to the
fight against violent gangs on the streets of Los Angeles.”
* Coupled with enforcement and prosecution are broad-based efforts to publicize the
penalties for gun crimes and to support other programs that will deter individuals,
particularly juveniles, from engaging in gun crimes.
* The LAPD has developed public service announcements intended especially for Los
Angeles. V12, a Santa Monica company, has developed a 30-second announcement that
will be broadcast on local television stations. V12, which did not charge the LAPD
for its work, has also developed a print campaign that will be displayed on
billboards throughout South Los Angeles.
* A $65,000 grant is going to the non-profit organization PAX to support “Campaign
Speak Up,” a school-based program aimed at preventing juvenile gun violence.