By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire
(NNPA) – The Justice Department announced 49 awards to states, territories, and the District of Columbia as part of the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program.
Officials stated that the investment of over $231 million would fund state crisis intervention court proceedings, including but not limited to extreme risk protection order (ERPO) programs that work to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, which is a landmark bill to deal with and reduce gun violence, gives the government permission to spend money on community safety.
“The Justice Department is working relentlessly to protect communities from violent crime and the gun violence that often drives it, and the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program is an important part of that effort,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the news release.
“These awards will support the kinds of crisis intervention programs that we know save lives and help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence.”
Lisa O. Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General, said that the Justice Department’s plan to reduce violent crime and gun violence includes prioritizing programs that work.
“The grants announced today invest in and highlight proven state and local violence prevention and intervention programs that will make our communities safer,” Monaco added.
Administered by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the awards provide funding to states for the creation and implementation of extreme risk protection order programs, state crisis intervention court proceedings, and related gun violence reduction initiatives.
In the release, DOJ officials said that extreme risk protection order programs allow family members, health care providers, school officials, and law enforcement officers to ask a court to temporarily stop a person from getting guns if they are a danger to themselves or others.
Funds can also support interventions like drug, mental health, and veterans’ treatment courts, gun violence recovery courts, behavior health deflection, and outpatient treatment centers, officials stated.
“Protecting communities from gun crime is an urgent public safety challenge and a critical part of the Justice Department’s work to ensure that everyone in this country can live free from the fear of violence,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta stated.
“The resources we announce today will give communities the tools they need to prevent firearm violence and deliver support to those at risk of committing or being victimized by gun crime.”
Signed into law by President Joe Biden in June 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act counts as the most significant piece of federal gun safety legislation in almost three decades.
It comes as a response to recent mass shootings and the far more common, but no less tragic, incidents of community gun violence.
With the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program included, the law gives the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) a total of $1.4 billion over five years to create, implement, and keep up investments that make communities safer.
“These awards will help meet two monumental public safety challenges — the alarming proliferation of gun violence in our country and the clear need for front-end interventions to slow the cycle of violence and victimization in our most underserved communities,” BJA Director Karhlton F. Moore said.
“The Bureau of Justice Assistance is proud to make these resources available to states as a critical part of its mission to reduce and prevent crime and to promote a fair and effective criminal justice system.”