Project Safe Neighborhoods

by Jacqueline Sit
NewsWest 9

"If we didn't have these officers protecting us, how difficult would it be to keep society safe," Johnny Sutton, U. S. Attorney, said.

Keeping society safe by cracking down on those who aren't allowed to carry a gun.

"Drug users, people under domestic violence protective order, illegal aliens," Sutton said.

Just to name a few, if caught with a weapon, U. S. Attorney Johnny Sutton says they could end up in federal prison.

"What we're doing is making the community safer by identifying those folks who are most dangerous, which are ex-cons with guns, drug addicts with guns, gang members with guns, and making sure we aggressively go after them in federal court," Sutton said.

And that's why it's important for officers to know the federal laws and programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods helping them recognize and tackle guns and gang violence.

"We've had a huge increase in terms of prosecution, and the violent crime rate is at a 30 year low," Sutton said.

Sutton tells NewsWest Nine they've got some bad guys behind bars, but Odessa Police Range Master Sgt. Carlos Chavez says it's still a problem happening statewide and here at home.

"I don't think we have it as much as the bigger city, you know, we're a smaller community and we have attacked that problem a lot, but we'll always have a firearms and weapons problem with gangs," Sgt. Carlos Chavez of Odessa Police Department, said.