As violent crime rates continue to rise, the Justice Department is reviving a community-based effort to target local gangs and reduce gun crimes in hot spots across the U.S., reports USA Today. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a memo to the 94 U.S. Attorneys, said federal prosecutors’ performance would be regularly measured on their re-commitment to the Project Safe Neighborhoods strategy, first introduced 16 years ago to combat violence by strengthening partnerships among law enforcement officials and community leaders. “We cannot afford to be complacent in the face of violence that threatens too many of our communities,” Sessions said Thursday.
As part of the effort, the Justice Department is deploying 40 additional prosecutors to 20 of the country’s most troubled districts. All U.S. Attorneys will be required to report on the progress every six months. Last month, the FBI reported that violent crime ticked up in 2016, the first time a two-year increase was recorded in more than a decade. While overall violent crime rates do not compare with the high-water marks of more than two decades ago, Sessions has been warning that the nation was again vulnerable to violence that ravaged local communities in the 1980s and 1990s. Oficials said the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort has waned in recent years after its successful introduction in 2001. Key to its revival, authorities said, is a new focus on particularly troubled communities across the country– including Chicago and Baltimore– where big surges in violence have helped drive up violent crime nationally.