CHARLESTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH)- U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart alongside federal, state and local representatives Tuesday announced an initiative meant to reduce violent crimes in Charleston.
The project is additional element of the national initiative “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” Stuart said. This specific initiative will be known as “Project Charleston.”
The announcement came during a news conference.
Stuart said the federal government will be moving forward a “state, local and federal partnership to make it clear that the idea of violent crime, drugs run rampant and our cities not being safe is something we’re not going to tolerate any longer.”
“We’re real pleased to have everybody here today in solidarity with a show of strength with the city of Charleston and the West Side,” Stuart said.
Stuart announced a surge of federal resources through the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and any resources that will be necessary to assist in the project.
“Our goal is on the West Side of Charleston, and all neighborhoods of Charleston for that matter, our goal is the little boys and girls and families can walk those streets safely regardless of the time of day and we’re going to work as hard as we can to make sure that violent elements, violent criminal elements that cause chaos, despair and destruction in our communities are removed from those communities,” Stuart said.
Project Huntington was rolled out in March this year. Stuart said there have been declines in violent activity in Huntington since, and they will use what they have learned and what has or has not worked to assist with efforts in Charleston.
“Our goal is to make sure the streets over there on the West Side are as safe as anywhere in the state of West Virginia,” Stuart said.
Stuart said there is a sense of urgency from the federal side to help communities reduce violence.
“This is an important partnership as we move forward. We’re not going to stop. We’ve got a sense of urgency until violence goes away on the West Side,” Stuart said.
Ten new federal prosecutors will be moving into the city of Charleston to help with the efforts, Stuart said. Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper added the city’s police department has added 10 new police officers, who are undercover or on foot or bicycle patrol.
Cooper said a recent uptick in crime stems from one or two individuals. Cooper said all murders, robberies and violent crimes are down from last year.
Stuart said the government has never had more prosecutors, dollars or support than right now.
“Our goal is to make sure we continue down this effort with aggressive enforcement,” Stuart said, speaking also on use of firearms in crimes.
Stuart advised if anyone uses a firearm while perpetrating a crime, they are not going to plea those away.
“You’re going to do the time for bringing a firearm to the activity,” he said.
Mayor Danny Jones, Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration special agents, Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives resident agent in charge Adam Black and other law enforcement officials were at the news conference supporting the efforts.