FRESNO, Calif. — Local and State Law enforcement agencies stood alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Monday to share the progress with Project Safe Neighborhoods.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is the program where federal, state and local law enforcement work together to combat violent crime in the community.
Since the relaunch on Oct 1 2017, the DA’s office and U.S. attorney’s office have been holding weekly meetings to determine who will take on a defendant for federal or state prosecution.
They say the reason for this is to get longer sentences.
“Those convicted will serve a higher percentage of sentence they get 85% of the time vs. 50% in the state system,” said McGregor W. Scott, U.S. Attorney.
Both Fresno County Sheriff Mims and the County’s District Attorney, Lisa Smittcamp said this partnership with the Federal Government is necessary because the State of California is tying their hands.
“It has been mind boggling to me as a prosecutor for 21 years how the state is passing the laws as it is,” said Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County District Attorney.
“People are being held accountable federally because we seem to have the lack of ability in California,” said Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff.
A part of the program too, the US attorney’s office said they have cracked down on gangs and they have also targeted illegal guns on the street.
“We have had a 30% reduction in violent shootings in Fresno, that is 108 fewer shootings in fresno. There is also a 32 % reduction in murders,” said Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Department.
Law enforcement attributes the lower numbers to strong enforcement but also prosecution to set an example.
The US attorney’s office is not attributing all of the decline in crime to the Project Safe Neighborhoods but they say it is a key part.
The program is expected to get more funding for the upcoming year.