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Monday, February 6th, 2023

New Senate effort focuses on reauthorizing Project Safe Neighborhoods grant program

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The Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program could gain new life if an effort newly introduced to the Senate gains traction.

Under S. 4859, reauthorization would be granted to legislation last passed in 2018 and for other purposes. A nationwide law enforcement program, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program’s original grant focused on reducing violent crime through cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors and the use of evidence and data-based approaches. Organized criminal networks and repeat offenders were the primary targets and had been since the program’s inception in 2001.

“The Project Safe Neighborhoods program has been proven to reduce violent crime in cities that participate by focusing law enforcement efforts on organized crime networks and repeat offenders,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a sponsor of both the 2018 and the latest authorization bill, said. “By fostering partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement to address these criminal threats, we can take a more proactive approach to protecting our communities from violent criminals.”

Back in 2018, the bill had passed the Senate unanimously. In its latest form, the legislation would authorize the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program with $50 million for fiscal years 2023-2026. Participants would need to create and pursue strategic plans to reduce violent crimes, focusing efforts on criminal organizations and individuals actively increasing violence in specific areas and prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of criminal leaders.

Both intervention and prevention initiatives would also be emphasized, from juvenile justice projects to improved community anti-violence norms. Funds could be used for the reduction of gun- and gang-related violence, as well as improvements to opioid overdose response. However, a flat 30 percent of funding would be reserved for existing regional law enforcement task forces.

In addition to Cornyn, the bill was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). It has also been backed by a variety of law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, National Association of Police Organizations, Major County Sheriffs of America, National District Attorneys Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies and National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition.