SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Department of Justice has awarded more than $300,000 to reduce violent crimes in cities across Massachusetts.

After a 25 year low in 2019, Springfield saw a slight uptick in violent crime last year. The city is looking to keep those numbers down and money from the government may help.

According to a news release sent to 22News by the U.S. Department of Justice, Project Safe Neighborhoods is a Department of Justice nationwide violent-crime reduction initiative coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices. The program brings together federal, state, and local law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime related problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address those issues. The program was initially launched in 2001 but recently received upgrades by the D.O.J. which included the implementation of new strategies.

“Shootings and other violent crimes cause devastating injuries and death for victims, of course, but they also destabilize the communities in which they occur. That is why this Office continues to prioritize violent crime reduction efforts through the PSN initiative,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “This funding, in addition to the continued collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, will enable us to develop tailored strategies that target the most violent criminals and make our communities safer.

Since the start of the program, nearly $7 million in federal grant funds have been allocated to Massachusetts’s violent crime reduction efforts. Massachusetts has established a network of law enforcement and community partners in six target cities including: Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester.

The money distributed to municipalities within the state have enabled communities and organizations to implement programming focused on after-school activities, education, employment, re-entry for returning citizens, law enforcement/community collaboration, and other public service outreach projects.

In Massachusetts, Project Safe Neighborhoods projects include:

  • Developing and sustaining community/law enforcement partnerships and strengthening their capabilities in targeted communities across the state by maximizing federal resources;
  • Collaborating with state and local law enforcement on violent crime and illegal firearm prosecutions;
  • Providing training for nearly 4,500 law enforcement personnel and community members on topics such as advancements in technology, empowering neighborhoods on addressing gang prevention; updates on new innovative community programs and partnerships; and officer safety training;
  • Supporting community partners and outreach programs to address reentry barriers for returning citizens and empower youth to resist gang recruitment;
  • Formulating tools to measure the performance of projects funded with PSN and other federal grants.

This is not money just coming to Massachusetts, more than $17 million is going to states across the country to help reduce crime.