Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $98,291)
Although violent crime is rising slightly throughout the entire Middle District of Alabama, the most predominant firearms/violent crime issue in the District remains localized within our PSN target enforcement area of Montgomery. The city of Montgomery has the largest population in our district and comprises most of the caseload handled by both the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Although 2020 saw a reduction in property crimes in the city, likely due to the pandemic, Montgomery continues to see an alarming increase in violent crime. Over that past two years violent crime, including homicides, felony sex cases, robbery, and assault, has increased over 20%. There were 377 people shot in Montgomery County during 2020, with an overwhelming majority of them located within the city limits. There were 69 homicide investigations in 2020, compared to 42 in 2019. Gangs, drug/gun trafficking, and illegal firearm possessions are the major driving forces behind violent crime.
Many of the offenders committing violent crime in the city have criminal records and have been “through the system” multiple times. The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (AL Paroles) system remains overburdened and the state prison system is still desperately overcrowded. Thus, close supervision of all probationers and parolees is very difficult due to the overburden of state resources.
The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) will continue a forceful Project Safe Neighborhoods strategy to make the city safer. The comprehensive strategy will use a multi-faceted approach to decrease violent gun and gang crime through targeted enforcement, collaboration between local and federal prosecutors, along with reentry and community-based intervention.
The PSN Team (the Team) will continue to prioritize violent offenders who may face more certain and appropriate punishment in the federal system, including federal prosecutions for illegal firearm possession. The Team will reinvigorate a partnership plan with the AL Paroles and ATF to identify violent probationer and parolee individuals who are at high risk to reoffend. The goal is that individuals are identified through the AL Paroles data driven metric system as high risk and that home visits be conducted that may result in the discovery of firearms and/or other factors indicating violent crime. Home visits are conducted with ATF TFOs present or in the immediate vicinity. Upon identification of the need for investigation, ATF personnel will begin investigating and coordinating with the USAO concerning the possibility of federal complaints against the potential defendants.
The USAO coordinated a meeting with several of our partner agencies within our target area of Montgomery to discuss plans, strategies, and identification of areas where violent crime may increase over the summer. Eight new hot spots in the city where intervention is necessary were identified. We also discussed community outreach programs currently scheduled and any future programs our office could participate in to help combat violent crime. The following list remains among the Team’s priorities: increased arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of the most serious and chronic violent offenders, including state parolees in violation of federal laws; disruption of illegal firearms markets; multiple-level and multiple-agency strategic response to homicides and other violent crimes; utilization of criminal justice data from law enforcement agencies to identify geographical focus areas and potential high risk reoffenders; and the continued collection and monitoring of crime data from law enforcement to measure results of crime reduction efforts.
The Montgomery County Sherriff’s Office is committed to reinitiating its TFO program to imbed local resources within that organization to help combat violent crime. ATF has committed to sharing resources, including the NIBIN system, to help investigate violent crime and track the sale, movement, and use of firearms within the district.