A U.S. Justice Department campaign to reduce gun crime in many cities has scored some successes, researchers said yesterday. The $1 billion Project Safe Neighborhoods program, operated through every U.S. Attorney’s office, has included a 68 percent increase in federal firearms prosecutions. Gun crime declined in Rochester, N.Y.’s “crescent” area after law enforcement teams were deployed to deal with disputes among potential lawbreakers and to bear down on houses that were high drug sales locations, said criminologist Edmund McGarrell of Michigan State University. McGarrell spoke at the Justice Department’s annual criminal justice research conference in Washington, D.C.
Despite some progress in lowering crime rates, St. Louis still is experiencing a “crisis” in gun homicides, said criminologist Scott Decker of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Decker said the Project Safe Neighborhoods version in St. Louis is trying to make “the threat of arrest, prosecution, and prison very credible.” In the past, many criminals have carried guns because they feared other armed offenders as much as they feared the justiced system, Decker said. Targeted prosecutions in one police district have contributed to a 40 percent decline in gun assaults and a 60 percent decrease in homicides.