ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), announced today new district-wide Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) initiatives, to include federal prosecutors specifically assigned to coordinate PSN efforts in each of the district’s four geographic Divisions, as part of the district’s ongoing violent crime reduction efforts. The coordinators will work with local, state, and federal partners to help devise and execute enforcement strategies; prioritize community outreach and engagement; support community violence intervention strategies; and measure the effectiveness of these collective efforts. This new initiative arises from the Justice Department’s recently announced Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Violent Crime.
“Violent crime impacts our communities at the neighborhood level, which is where we are focusing our efforts. We are collaborating closely with our local, state, and federal partners on violence prevention and building trust in the communities we serve,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh. “Together, we are dedicated to protecting our community members, disrupting the organizations behind violent crime and gun trafficking, and pioneering new strategies to help reduce violent crime throughout our district.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has appointed eight seasoned federal prosecutors to help coordinate EDVA’s violent crime reduction efforts under the PSN program. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. To cover the district, each of EDVA’s four Divisions in Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk, and Newport News have two designated PSN Division Representatives. They, in turn, will work with the district’s team of over 40 experienced Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) and Special AUSAs (SAUSAs), who focus on prosecuting violent crime, firearms trafficking, and related cases that are prioritized under the enforcement component of the PSN program. These prosecutors will coordinate with EDVA’s law enforcement and community partners to prevent and disrupt violent crime and prosecute the most violent offenders and dangerous criminal organizations in our communities.
Consistent with the Department’s comprehensive strategy, EDVA’s PSN team will work with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to identify and focus on the most significant drivers of violent crime in all four Divisions. As part of these enhanced PSN efforts, EDVA will also collaborate with state, local, non-governmental, and community partners that are awarded U.S. Department of Justice grants to combat violent crime, strengthen community-based prevention and intervention efforts, and assess the effectiveness of these steps.
EDVA and its PSN partners are also working with the Justice Department’s newly launched cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence. These efforts are part of a long-term, coordinated, multi-jurisdictional strategy to disrupt the flow of illegally trafficked firearms. The strike forces are being deployed in five metropolitan areas across the country that the Department has identified as key illegal-firearm markets based on years of firearms trace data compiled and analyzed by ATF as well as gun-trafficking intelligence. Leveraging existing resources, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area strike force, of which EDVA is a member, will complement EDVA’s PSN initiatives by disrupting trafficking networks from the areas where guns originate to the places where they are used to commit violent crimes.
On May 26, 2021, the Justice Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN so that it is built on newly articulated core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results of our efforts. The Department expressly underscores that the fundamental goal of this work is to reduce violent crime in the places we call home, not to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions as if they were ends in themselves.
EDVA is also increasing its engagement with community partners under the PSN program, including participating in local offender re-entry efforts, such as the Greater Prince William Re-entry Council, in their ongoing work to help returning citizens successfully reintegrate into society following incarceration. Another major facet of PSN is raising awareness by engaging youth through education. Programs, such as “Silent No More,” are being introduced at schools in the Eastern District of Virginia to educate students and parents about the threat of opioids and other dangerous substances, as well as connecting law enforcement with parents, medical professionals, and educators for life-saving conversations. Additionally, through EDVA’s community-based educational outreach and prevention program known as “UnMasked,” the district is dedicated to raising awareness about the prevalence of online sexual exploitation involving children and young adults.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia