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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

(202) 514-2007
TDD: (202) 514-1888

          ATLANTA – The Department of Justice today announced 19 recipients of the national Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Achievement Awards in a ceremony held before more than 1,000 attendees at the National PSN Conference. The recipients were chosen from a large pool of nominations submitted by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation.

          “The fight to keep our communities safe is one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice, and the individuals and groups we recognize today are among our most important allies,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford. “We are proud to be their partners and applaud their exceptional contributions.”

The recipients of the 2007 PSN Achievement Awards are as follows:


Outstanding Outreach Campaign

  • Macon Regional Crimestoppers, Inc., (Macon, Ga.), for its comprehensive public outreach over the airwaves, through outdoor advertising, and in public schools. Macon Regional Crimestoppers has done outstanding work as the Media Outreach Partner for the Middle District of Georgia since 2002, leading the Southeast Region of the national organization virtually every year in productivity.

  • Stop Handgun Violence and U.S. Probation Officers Jeff Smith and Michelle Roberts (Massachusetts), for their “Mandatory Sentence” video, a production that delivers a powerful deterrence message. A collaborative effort, the video is being used regularly throughout the region to influence at-risk young people to avoid gun crimes.

Exemplary Local Training Program

  • Mobile (Ala.) Police Department Training Program (Mobile, Ala.), for its work in educating fellow law enforcement officers on federal firearms laws, both in the Mobile area and throughout the Southern District of Alabama, including the development of a multi-tier training program for street officers and police academy cadets.

Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Violent Crime Task Force

  • James Phillips, Detective, Fayetteville Police Department (Fayetteville, N.C.). Under Detective Phillips’ leadership, the “Call-In” or “Offender Notification” program has reached over 250 probationers with a significant reduction in the recidivism rates for participants. Detective Phillips has also piloted training for over 500 local law enforcement agencies.

  • Robert Poikey, Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit, Mich.). Mr. Poikey has provided exemplary leadership and has capitalized on his years of experience in law enforcement and corrections to enhance relationships between federal, state and local law enforcement. He has helped bring together 10 law enforcement agencies to successfully combat violent crime and gangs in Detroit.

  • Sandra J. Tucker, Task Force Officer, Birmingham Police Department, (Birmingham, Ala.). Ms. Tucker has served as a Task Force Officer for ATF Birmingham Group I since October 1999, producing an average of 37 federal firearm cases per year, and contributing to the Group’s 91 percent conviction rate.

Outstanding Overall Partnership/Task Force

  • Maryland EXILE Team (Baltimore, Md.), for its outstanding work in developing and implementing a unified and comprehensive written strategy to combat gun crime that combines local, state and federal law enforcement efforts; community action and revitalization; and public awareness. Among other things, Maryland EXILE utilizes an innovative approach to coordinating state and federal firearms prosecutions, has developed extensive police training programs, and features a creative public relations campaign.

Outstanding Local Prosecutor’s Office

  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (Philadelphia, Pa.). Philadelphia District Attorney Lynn Abraham has demonstrated her commitment to PSN by assigning four Assistant District Attorneys to work full-time in the U.S. Attorney’s Office on firearms and gang prosecutions to help coordinate the firearms and drug prosecution programs operated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She has created a unit in her office that supports the PSN effort by identifying firearms and gang cases in the local court system and routing them to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible federal adoption. This commitment has been a critical factor in the Philadelphia PSN program’s ability to prosecute more than 2,300 defendants since inception.

Outstanding Youth Program

  • Waterbury PSN Task Force (Waterbury, Conn.), for working closely with the State’s Child Advocate, the Probation Office, and the Board of Education to create a program called the Youth Offender Meeting for students who have received long–term suspensions from school and youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who have been adjudicated youthful offenders. The program stresses the ramifications of engaging in further offensive conduct and supplies extensive support services.

Outstanding Local Police Department Involvement

  • Omaha Police Department (Omaha, Neb.), for working in close and dedicated partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska to greatly enhance the enforcement strategies in Omaha, including Offender Notification meetings, Nightlight operations (police-probation home visits), and Cease-fire operations (deployment of police and probation/parole officers to areas experiencing a rise in gun violence).

Outstanding Gun Crime Investigation

  • Operation Fire and Ice (Chatham County, Ga.), for its significant impact on violent crime in a low income/high crime area in rural Chatham County known as Ogeechee Farms. The partnership between ATF and Chatham County Counter-Narcotics Team led to numerous prosecutions and seizures of firearms and drugs and resulted in the complete disruption of a significant local crime organization. The operation resulted in seizures of 59 firearms, 294 grams of cocaine powder, 111 grams of crack cocaine, 245 grams of methamphetamine, 95 pounds of marijuana, and 64 pills of Oxycontin. Fourteen defendants have been convicted in U.S. District Court, receiving sentences ranging up to 262 months.

Outstanding Gang Investigations

  • RAGE Task Force, MS-13 Gang Investigation (Prince George's County, Md.). The task force identified and infiltrated several extremely violent MS-13 “cliques” in Maryland, and undertook to dismantle them through the use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, resulting in charges against 27 gang members for RICO–based offenses.

  • Operation Ceasefire Task Force, 107 Hoover Crips Gang Investigation (Tulsa, Okla.). The investigation targeted the leadership of the 107 Hoover Crips, whose gang war with the Neighborhood Crips was responsible for a string of 18 murders that occurred in late 2003 to mid 2004. The PSN task force included ATF, FBI, DEA, ICE, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tulsa Police Department. The effort culminated in a 147-count indictment charging 14 defendants. The operation also produced 107 gang-related targets, resulting in 18 federal court cases and 57 state court cases.

  • Columbia Violent Gang Task Force, Bloods Street Gang Investigation (Columbia, S.C.). The Columbia Violent Gang Task Force has made a significant impact on violent gang–related crime since its formation in October 2004. By using every technique at their disposal, including multiple Title III wiretaps, overt, aggressive surveillance, pretextual car stops, and arrests to disrupt a number of planned robberies and shootings, the task force disrupted the Bloods Street Gang, which was clearly the largest threat in the increasingly violent gang problem in South Carolina. Over 100 Bloods Gang members and associates have been indicted.

  • Newark FBI/Safe Streets Gang Task Force, Double II Bloods Gang Investigation (Newark, N.J.). The Double II Bloods investigation involved racketeering and other charges against 43 members and associates of a gang that controlled a large section of the heroin trade in East Orange, N.J., and was responsible for at least six murders. The cooperation included the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, ATF, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and other local law enforcement. 21 members and associates of the gang were ultimately charged with racketeering conspiracy and substantive racketeering encompassing six murders, seven murder conspiracies, and 14 attempted murders, as well as an ongoing heroin distribution conspiracy, gun trafficking and 18 other firearms offenses. All but one of the defendants eventually pleaded guilty, including five of the most hard core members to racketeering charges, including murder.

Exceptional Community Involvement

  • Dr. Bobby Gaston, Program Director, Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association (Baton Rouge, La.). Dr. Gaston led the organization of local community-based support group made up of the leadership of several groups that had not traditionally worked together, including minority civic and business leaders. That group established a local PSN media campaign that to date has run more than $2.5 million in paid or donated media spots in the Baton Rouge metro market. Dr. Gaston’s influence and innovation continues today through his uninterrupted involvement in several multi–agency outreach efforts.

  • Operation Safe Community (Memphis and Shelby Counties, Tenn.). Operation Safe Community is a crime abatement initiative involving a partnership of the U.S. Attorney, the Mayors of Memphis County and Shelby County, the Shelby County District Attorney General, the Director of the Memphis Police Department, the Sheriff of Shelby County, the University of Memphis, the Memphis– Shelby County Crime Commission and Memphis Tomorrow, a non-profit organization representing the business community. The effort has had tremendous success including: obtaining significant reductions in armed carjackings and business robberies in the City of Memphis; creating a mentoring program for chronic truants; training over 700 law enforcement officers on PSN targeted topics; and convening intervention meetings for over 500 probationers and parolees.

Innovative Prevention Strategy

  • Violence Intervention Partnership (Washington, D.C.). This partnership serves as the centerpiece of DC’s anti-gang and youth violence intervention initiatives, and seamlessly coordinates the efforts of law enforcement, community–based organizations, and the faith-based community. The VIP focuses its efforts on high–risk youth and young adults ages 13 to 26 years old who are actively involved in a gang or crew, and those on probation for committing dangerous crimes, and/or are at a high-risk for being the perpetrator or victim of violence. Partners address systemic issues, such as truancy, delinquency, and recidivism by coordinating enforcement and integrating programs and services. Conflict resolution is merged with aggressive street–level outreach, and further supported with mentoring and activities that enforce life skills.

Outstanding Service by a Research Partner

  • Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission (Milwaukee, Wis.). The Commission brings law enforcement partners, community serving agencies, and community members together to systematically review homicides under the direction of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. In three Milwaukee police districts on which the commission has focused, the number of homicides declined 15 percent between 2004 and 2006, compared to a 44 percent increase in homicide in the remaining districts.