Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $120,217)
PROJECT ABSTRACT BJA FY 21 Project Safe Neighborhood Applicant Name: Department of Criminal Justice Services (Virginia SAA)/PSN Fiscal Agent Title of Project: Virginia Project Safe Neighborhoods Category: Category 1: USAO district populations of 5 million or more. District Population: Approximately 2.2 million Length of Project: October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2024 Point of Contact: Mark Fero, [email protected], 804-225-2782 1100 Bank Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219-1991 In recent years, violent crime has soared in Roanoke, Danville, and Lynchburg, Virginia. For example, in 2016 in Danville, the homicide rate spiked from an average of four murders per year to a total of 16. “If you look at the past 30 years, we’ve had lots of highs and lows. 2016 was probably the low point for this community," Danville Police Captain Steve Richardson said. "We really turned the corner with 21st century policing, partnering with the community and being problem solvers and innovators." As a result of our efforts in 2018, 2019 and 2020 Danville has seen a 38% decrease in homicides from 2019 to 2020. Between 2016 and 2020, homicides dropped by 71% and robberies also fell by 84% during this time. Moreover, in recent years, Roanoke has ranked, per capita, as one of the most violent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia and has seen a dramatic increase in opioid overdose deaths in the last two years. Roanoke’s homicides and aggravated assaults saw an increase of 13% and 26% respectively. Aggravated assaults with a firearm hit an eleven year high in 2020. Like Roanoke, the city of Lynchburg has also experienced a recent increase in gang violence, and local police attribute the almost tripling of the city’s homicide rate last year to gang shootings. I. Historically the most violent gang in Danville has been the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips (prosecuted by the USAO for racketeering); that gang has started emerging in Lynchburg. Investigations have shown a link between the flow of narcotics between Danville and Lynchburg. Homicides and aggravated assaults saw an increase of 33% and 21% respectively. Local and state law enforcement personnel attribute this violence to increased national street gang activity, which is consistent with statewide crime trends. According to the Virginia Gang Investigators Association, there may be over 200 gangs in the Commonwealth of Virginia with over 10,000 members. In response to this rise in violent crime, and building on past success as well as lessons learned, the WDVA USAO’s work will be rooted in the four key principles listed in the United States Justice, Office of the Deputy Attorney General, Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime Memo, dated May 26, 2021. These will include fostering trust and legitimacy in the communities we serve, investing in community based prevention and intervention programs, setting strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results of our efforts. We will implement one or more effective strategies to prevent, respond to, and reduce violent crime (see Natalie Kroovand Hipple and Edmund F. McGarrell, “Supporting Effective Implementation of Strategic Crime Reduction Efforts,” Research in Brief, The Police Chief 81 (September 2014): 14–15 at http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/researchin-brief-supporting-effectiv…). We will also support the specific activities and resource requirements of the PSN team with the goal of implementing the district’s PSN strategy in collaboration with all relevant partners and stakeholders.