PORTLAND, Maine: Today U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank provided an update on the status of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative designed to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country. Project Guardian is a complement to the Department’s longstanding Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) anti-violence program, and focuses on investigating, prosecuting and preventing gun crimes.
“Reducing gun violence and enforcing federal firearms laws through PSN have always been among the highest priorities for the Department, but federal law enforcement represents only about 15 percent of all law enforcement resources nationwide,” said U.S. Attorney Frank. “Our ability to combat gun violence in Maine depends on our partnerships with state and local stakeholders, and Project Guardian enhances those partnerships.”
The Project Guardian initiative, launched in November 2019, promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing gun violence involving those dealing with domestic violence and mental health issues. One of the initiative’s principles is regular consultation with relevant agencies and organizations to assess the feasibility of adopting disruption and early engagement programs. These programs focus on individuals prohibited from possessing firearms because of mental health issues and domestic abusers who attempt to acquire firearms.
“The strength of PSN Maine continues to be the involvement of dedicated and informed stakeholders who serve on a Task Force with representatives from throughout the State,” said U.S. Attorney Frank. “This year we welcomed an additional number of dedicated professionals from a variety of agencies and organizations to serve on our Project Guardian Working Group.” The working group will assist law enforcement in pursuit of a holistic response to potential gun violence involving individuals struggling with mental illness and/or domestic violence in Maine communities.
Representative agency/organizations serving on the Working Group include: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office; Cumberland County Violence Intervention Partnership; FBI; Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services; Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence; Maine Department of Education, Maine School Safety Center; Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; Maine State Forensic Service; Maine State Police; Muskie School of Public Service; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Northern Light, Acadia Hospital Community & Pediatric Services; Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office; Penobscot & Piscataquis County District Attorney; and United States Secret Service.
As part of the Project Guardian initiative, U.S. Attorney Frank is hosting a virtual meeting of the Working Group today. The meeting will focus on the preparation of a statewide list of mental health and domestic violence-related community resources that Maine law enforcement agencies can reference.