Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $120,634)
The Western District of Virginia has established a district-wide PSN Task Force, which is comprised of high-level representatives of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General's Office of Virginia, and Commonwealth Attorneys. Based on crime data, the PSN Task Force has identified three target enforcement areas and has implemented violent-crime reduction programs in those cities.
City of Danville: Per capita, the last few years, Danville has the highest murder rate in Virginia, ahead of major urban areas like Richmond. Local police attribute this increase in homicides to a corresponding escalation of gang violence. In response, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) has partnered with federal agencies, the Danville Police Department (DPD), the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, and the Virginia State Police to reduce gang-related crime. Utilizing police reports, local gang intelligence, and social media analysis, the Danville task force has identified the top gangs in the city, their leadership, and their most violent members. These efforts resulted in the June 2018 indictments that charged two of the city’s most violent gangs and their leadership in connection racketeering activities, multiple attempted murders, and a 2016 murder. As the USAO prosecutes the two indictments, the task force will continue to investigate the remaining gangs, with the plan to move toward future indictments of other gangs and gang members. In addition, the task force has created a list of the most violent offenders in Danville area, using data collected from various sources and modeled on a similar type of analysis employed by the Tampa Police Department. Using this data as a guide, the task force has started building gang and non-gang cases against the city’s most dangerous shooters.
City of Roanoke: In recent years, Roanoke has ranked, per capita, as one of the most violent cities in Virginia. As in Danville, some of this is the result of increased gang activity. The USAO, FBI, and Roanoke Police Department (RPD) investigated and indicted gang members related to a 2017 homicide, and other gang investigations are ongoing. As in Danville, a task force comprised of the USAO, federal agencies, the RDP, the Roanoke County Police Department, and the Virginia State Police have identified the city’s top crime-drivers, and have initiated various investigations in order to address these top offenders.
City of Lynchburg: In the last year, Lynchburg’s homicide rate has doubled, with a corresponding increase in gang violence. New to the WDVA’s PSN program, the USAO has begun forming a task force there, comprised of federal, state, and local partners. This task force will be responsible for identifying, investigating, and prosecuting the city’s gang members and most violent offenders.