SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The City of Shreveport has been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of the ten latest cities to join a federal program aimed at reducing violence in areas with elevated crime rates.

The city of Shreveport has been grappling with an increase in violent crime over the past year. With less than three months left in 2021, 70 homicides have already been recorded in Shreveport. That’s already four more homicides than the 66 recorded in 2020.

According to the city’s historical crime data, 1993 was the worst year for crime in Shreveport, with 86 homicides.

“Violent crime in the Shreveport area has grown despite the Herculean efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement to combat it,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a statement. “The assistance that will be given through this partnership to the Shreveport Police Department will equip our officers and city leaders to combat these growing trends and help to curtail the continued increase of crime.”

Van Hook and Interim SPD Chief Wayne Smith announced the city’s selection for the DOJ’s National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) at a news conference Thursday afternoon, alongside Mayor Adrian Perkins and Caddo District Attorney James Stewart.

“I’m just overwhelmed at this opportunity today,” Smith said Thursday. “The comes as such a great blessing for the City of Shreveport to get the resources that we need to help me further evaluate the Shreveport Police Department, determine things that we can do better, to get up to date on new and current technology. Having all of our federal partners working with us in an effort like this is going to prove such great benefits to the city of Shreveport. It’s going to help us move forward at a much more rapid pace.”

The partnership is a three-year commitment in which participating cities receive consultation and “expedited, coordinated training and technical assistance (TTA) and an array of resources from DOJ to enhance local public safety strategies.”

According to a statement released by the DOJ, the PSP program began as a pilot in 2014 and was formally adopted by the Department as an intensive training and technical assistance protocol in June 2017.  Sites must apply to participate.  To be considered for selection, a site must have sustained levels of violence that far exceed the national average and demonstrate a commitment to reducing crime and enhancing community engagement. Van Hook said former Police Chief Ben Raymond, who resigned in August amid criticism of his handling of the increase in violent crime, started the application process in 2019.

“Violence—gun violence in particular—has taken a heavy toll on communities across the country, and its impact has been felt most deeply in neighborhoods where resources have always been scarce and justice has historically been elusive,” said Amy L. Solomon, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, whose Bureau of Justice Assistance administers the PSP initiative.  “We are proud to join local leaders and our partners from across the Department of Justice as we work together to stem the tide of violent crime in these hard-hit communities.”

Shreveport joins Antioch, California; Aurora, Colorado; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Gary, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; North Charleston/Charleston, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; and Richmond, Virginia among the cities added to more than 40 existing PSP cities across the country.

The primary participating Justice Department components include the Office of Justice Programs; the Office on Violence Against Women; the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. Marshals Service.