U.S. Attorney Birge Announces Project Safe Neighborhoods Funding to Promote Violence Prevention and Community Policing in West Michigan
GRAND RAPIDS, MN (STL.News) United States Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that the Department of Justice has awarded a total of $152,430 in Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) grant funds to local partners for the year 2021. The PSN grant program works to reduce and prevent violent crime by supporting a combination of community-based violence prevention programs and law enforcement efforts in specific geographic areas in our district, identified as the most at-risk through data collection and analysis. In so doing, the PSN grant program seeks to improve both citizen security and community-police engagement. With that goal in mind, a committee of local law enforcement leaders worked closely with their local communities to determine how to distribute these federal funds.
In Western Michigan, a committee of local prosecutors and law enforcement departments from Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Muskegon collectively worked with community members and non-governmental organizations to focus this funding on violence prevention, building strong community-law enforcement relationships, and providing alternative opportunities for those who might engage in violent crime. This year the PSN committee awarded grant funding to a diverse set of projects, including community-based violence intervention programs as well as intelligence-led policing initiatives. The committee decided to allocate PSN grant funding to the following programs:
In Battle Creek, the money will be used to develop outreach workers to mentor at-risk youth in the community and to fund some of the victim advocate programming of the Battle Creek Police Department.
In Benton Harbor, grant funds will support a neighborhood arts program to work with local social media “influencers” on creating positive messaging about violent crime reduction and teach area youth skills for music and video production.
In Grand Rapids, the grant money will be used to support the development of a Violent Crime Intelligence Team (VCIT) . The VCIT is a dedicated team of detectives, patrol officers, and crime analysts that investigate gang activity and gun violence in the city.
In Kalamazoo, the money will continue to support the long-running and successful Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program. The GVI program supports police and community members, including ex-offenders, as they personally reach out to at-risk youth and group members to interrupt cycles of violence.
In Lansing, grant funds will support the city’s innovative public health approach to violent crime reduction. PSN money will fund the recruitment and training of staff that will develop a street outreach team. This team will intervene and provide support to individuals most at-risk of committing, and becoming victims of, violent crime.
In Muskegon, the money will fund a project that helps at-risk youth obtain their drivers’ licenses. Lack of transportation is a major obstacle for many at-risk youth, which precludes them from attending school and obtaining or maintaining employment.
In Muskegon Heights, PSN funds will be used to fund a variety of community-based programming and outreach, including an after-school sports program, a park renovation project, the mentoring of at-risk youth by former convicts, and community/police town hall meetings.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan is committed to supporting local law enforcement, community organizations, and residents to reduce violent crime in our district. Senior Vice President Annette Chapman, of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, is the fiscal agent for the Western District of Michigan’s Project Safe Neighborhoods grant. Her dedication to the grant’s strategy, management, and community stakeholders is essential to the success of this program.