Rockingham County reduces gun violence with Project Safe

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY --- Rockingham County has reduced the rate of gun violence crime in the last two years by 31 percent thanks to the efforts of Project Safe Rockingham County.

Project Safe targets gang members and chronic offenders of gun related crimes.

Under the leadership of District Attorney Phillip Berger, Jr., Project safe is a community effort through the force of the Rockingham Sheriff Department and six municipal police departments; Eden, Reidsville, Stoneville, Madison and Mayodan.

Project Safe conducts two "call-ins" a year targeting individuals that are most likely to re-offend.

Vice Chairmen of Project Safe and Eden Police Chief Reece Pyrtle said law enforcement  warns individuals of the no- tolerance policy they have on such violent crimes and that harsh penalties and prison time will result if they commit another gun related crime.

“The officers are working hard out there trying to get the guns off the street. We're targeting these individuals that have firearms and if you use a firearm we're going to hold you accountable for it," Pyrtle said. "Ideally the long-term success of the program is that they don't commit any further violence and they become a productive member of society."

Approximately 20 to 30 social services agencies offer the ex-offenders resources to get everything from shelter, job training to tattoo removal.

Of the 200 offenders involved in the program only one has re-committed a violent crime.

Pyrtle said the success of the program comes from the community involvement and communication between law enforcement agencies and community members.

Federal funding for the program is provided in a $30,000 grant from the Governor's Crime Commission.

Pyrtle said Project Safe's next venture is to extend the program for juvenile delinquents.

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