Project Safe Neighborhoods

Memphian Don Brown, a convicted felon, got caught with a gun in January.

"Based on his arrest record at a state level, he would've been charged with only a misdemeanor. And as a matter of fact, initially, he was." says Inspector J.D. King with the Memphis Police Department. But instead of a slap on the wrist, Brown got 9 and a half years in federal prison, the first criminal convicted in the new Project Safe Neighborhoods.

"It's one of those things that comes along every once in a while that you really feel is going to make a difference." says King. King and his team review every gun crime the MPD investigates. Then, each case goes before a panel of state and federal prosecutors. If the case goes the federal route and results in a conviction, the criminal faces a much stiffer prison sentence. "We'd like to send a message out there: if you commit a crime with a gun or if you are in possession of a gun and you're a convicted felon, you're going to be arrested and prosecuted vigorously." says King.

Police say their efforts with the state DA and U.S. Attorney should reduce gun violence and imprison the small percentage of criminals who are committing the majority of crime.

In the seven months Project Safe Neighborhoods has been set up and running, police and prosecutors have reviewed over 800 cases. Forty percent of them have been sent through the federal system and the Don Brown case is the first start-to-finish success for the project.