by William Skink
The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative I wrote about earlier this week is a much older program than I had realized, predating Obama’s fusion centers by six years.
Launched in 2002, PSN was adopted early on in urban centers like Chicago. By 2018, the year President Trump revived the initiative, Chicago wasn’t seeing the benefit:
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) was launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002 to reduce gun violence across 94 federal districts. The City of Chicago adopted this program the same year, targeting neighborhoods inflicted with high rates of poverty, unemployment, gang membership, and high school dropouts. Initial evaluations determined that PSN was working—violent crime decreased in areas considered to be “high-dose PSN sites” relative to others.
After more than a decade of PSN’s implementation, a new study led by Ben Grunwald and Andrew V. Papachristos evaluated the long-term impact of PSN in Chicago. The authors found that, contrary to popular belief, the results of the program’s effectiveness were not as significant as earlier studies indicated. In fact, they showed that the project reduced homicides in its first years of implementation, but like other anti-violence initiatives in Chicago, the effects “may have dissipated over time.”
Later that year, during a speech by Trump in Kansas City that garnered headlines because he had just announced his choice of William Barr to take over as AG, Trump also announced PSN would be getting a boost, and Congress followed suit. From the first link:
THE PRESIDENT: We’re here today to restore one of the most effective crime prevention strategies in America: Project Safe Neighborhoods. This initiative brings law enforcement, community groups, and local leaders together to get the most violent criminals in the most dangerous areas off the streets and behind bars. After many years of neglect, we are bringing back this lifesaving program stronger than ever before.
Today is the first nationwide meeting of Project Safe Neighborhoods in eight years. And here with us is the man who started this visionary project all the way back in 2001, former Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Applause.) Where is John? Where is John?
Yes, the BIG VISIONARY of this national program that has been resurrected under Trump, and is now trickling all the way down to liberal Missoula County, is none other than John COVER THOSE STATUE’S TITS Ashcroft.
How does that make you feel, liberal Missoula?
After Trump announced the revival of Ashcroft’s vision, Congress followed suit with H.R> 3249:
H.R. 3249 officially establishes the Project Safe Neighborhoods Block Grant Program within the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs to foster and improve existing partnerships to create safer neighborhoods through sustained reductions in violent crimes. The Program, first created in 2001, had previously been funded through other grants. The legislation authorizes $50 million a year for each of fiscal years 2019 through 2020.
The Senate Amendment adds additional areas of purpose for the Grant Program, including the collection of data on outcomes achieved through the Program, competitive and evidence-based programs to reduce gun crime and gang violence, the Edward Byrne criminal justice innovation program, and community-based violence prevention initiatives.
I added the emphasis because the collection of data is what I’m most interested in regarding this DOJ initiative.
To get more information about how data is collected, I reached out to a grant administrator in Missoula who I know, and I got an email contact for the person who does the data collection. Interestingly, the grant administrator told me she had tried to get data from this initiative for a grant she was working on, but was denied.
Why? Is there some kind of secret sauce applied to the data to ensure specific outcomes are achieved?
I have sent this person an email with some general questions about this initiative and if I get a response, you’ll be reading about here.