South Georgia authorities stepping up Project Safe Neighborhoods

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 12, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Cracking down on violent crime in South Georgia; local law enforcement is stepping up the Project Safe Neighborhoods.

It's a national program through the Department of Justice, aiming to get repeat violent offenders off the street.

Officials said the program began under the Bush administration, but died out over the years. In the last year, officials across South Georgia have picked it back up.

Just this month, officials say three people from Valdosta with violent criminal histories were prosecuted federally for illegally possessing a firearm.

One of the three individuals is Kenneth Diamond, 28, of Valdosta. He plead guilty to one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He was sentenced to 70 months in prison, plus three years supervised release.

Sheriff Ashley Paulk says prosecuting at the federal level means longer sentences, out of the county jail and less likely for that person to cause more violent crimes locally.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a partnership between local law enforcement and federal agents, like the FBI and DEA.

Every month they look at local cases of repeat, dangerous offenders involving guns.

Officials say conviction at the federal level could mean longer sentences, and since there is no parole in the federal system, less of a chance for that person to return to the streets and, hopefully, prevent the worst from happening.

"It's taking these bad people off the streets," said Sheriff Paulk. "And, of course, these are people that are using guns. So now, in this day in time, we might be taking one off the street, his next target might be a school, it might be a place he used to work."

Officials say every month, they have at least one case to refer to federal agents.

Authorities say if you ever have any concerns, or see something suspicious, call local law enforcement.

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