May 26, 2024

Federal Prosecutors taking aim at violent crime in Garden City

WICHITA, KAN. – Federal prosecutors are teaming up with local and state law enforcement agencies to target violent crime in Wichita and Garden City, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said today.

The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative will prioritize federal prosecutions of repeat offenders and convicted criminals who carry firearms in the two cities, where violent crime rates are higher than average for Kansas.

“Violent crime rates are on the rise in both cities,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said. “By working together, we can size up the problems and concentrate our resources where we get the best results. Our goal is to make both communities safer.”

Drug trafficking, gang activity and other factors drive violent crime rates and make each city’s problems unique, McAllister said. The PSN program is aimed at directing federal resources – including federal prosecutors as well as investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies – to support the work of local police departments, sheriffs and district attorneys.

Both Garden City and Wichita have reported increased gang activity that fuels violent crime. Law enforcement officials in both cities, McAllister said, have been very receptive to working with the U.S. Attorney’s office on the PSN program.

According to the KBI’s most recent report, the violent crime rate for Kansas is 3.7 per 1,000 people. That compares to a rate of 5.1 in Garden City and a rate of 10.6 in Wichita, according to the KBI report, which was based on 2016 figures.

In Wichita, a PSN Task Force will be formed, including two agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster and Assistant District Attorney Mandee Schauf from the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, as well as officers from the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department.

McAllister said a federal prosecutor and an assistant district attorney will meet regularly to review cases and discuss prosecution strategies.

In Garden City, PSN prosecutors are targeting gang members, repeat offenders and known drug traffickers.

McAllister said he recently received authorization from the Justice Department to hire two new federal prosecutors in Kansas to concentrate on violent crime cases. Those prosecutors will work with the PSN 2.0 program, as well as tackle violent crime in Topeka, which also has suffered a surge in violent crimes recently.

The new PSN initiative is based on a 2001 program of the same name that proved successful in reducing violent crime, McAllister said. One of the keys to the program is targeted enforcement. U.S. Attorneys in collaboration with their partners are working to identify the most violent locations in their districts and to concentrate enforcement there.

The PSN program also calls for prosecutors to work with local communities to prevent crime by supporting programs to engage teenagers in constructive ways that promote respect for law enforcement and steer them away from crime, as well as programs that reduce recidivism.