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Prelude to Project Safe Neighborhoods: The Richmond, Virginia, Experience

NCJ Number
Edwin E. Hamilton
Date Published
January 2004
9 pages
This paper draws lessons from the key components of Project Exile, which was successful in reducing gun violence in Richmond, VA, and these lessons are shown to be the foundational principles for Project Safe Neighborhoods, whose nationwide launching was announced by President George W. Bush in May 2001.
Project Exile's achievement in reducing gun violence has been largely attributed to productive partnerships among the participating agencies and the coordinated use of innovative and aggressive policing strategies designed to reduce gun violence. Equally important, however, was Project Exile's focus on obtaining popular support from strategic neighborhoods for an aggressive law enforcement approach to gun violence. Had Project Exile not made a deliberate effort to enlist community support, the communities that were suffering the most from gun violence could have undermined the program's efforts. These communities are often racially segregated and socially isolated. Project Exile focused on promoting the legitimacy of law enforcement among neighborhood residents at high risk for gun violence and building a community coalition committed to addressing the gun problem. The lessons of Project Exile are reflected in the basic tenets of Project Safe Neighborhoods as a new national initiative to counter gun violence. Project Safe Neighborhoods has five core elements. First, establish partnerships among Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials in reviewing and preparing gun cases for prosecution. Second, design a strategic plan for combating gun violence that reflects the specific needs of the community. Third, provide comprehensive training for Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors regarding Federal and State firearms violations and statutes. Fourth, provide public outreach to increase community awareness of a specific program. Fifth, instill accountability into program efforts through periodic evaluations of its implementation and outcomes. 3 notes