- Associated Press - Thursday, June 28, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A law enforcement initiative prioritizes federal prosecutions of repeat offenders and convicted criminals who carry firearms in Wichita and Garden City, the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas said Thursday.

The Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative teams federal prosecutors together with local and state law enforcement agencies in the two cities where the violent crime rate is higher than the state average of 3.7 per 1,000 people. The report from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations showed a rate of 5.1 in Garden City and 10.6 in Wichita in 2016.

Both cities have reported increased gang activity that fuels violent crime, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

McAllister added that he recently received authorization from the Justice Department to hire two new federal prosecutors in Kansas to concentrate on violent crime cases, including a surge of them in Topeka.

In Wichita, a task force will be formed that includes agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster; Assistant District Attorney Mandee Schauf from the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office; and officers from the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.

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

The 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. It also calls for prosecutors to work with communities to prevent crime by supporting programs that aim to engage teenagers in constructive ways.

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