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Senator Credits Program for Taking 166 Guns Off Rochester Streets

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the start of an aggressive bipartisan campaign in Congress to pass a $50 million initiative to expand Project Exile nationwide. Schumer announced his intention days after passing an amendment with Sen. Arlen Specter (RPA) to the 2000 Federal Budget which praises Rochester's success with Project Exile. Schumer was joined at a press conference by US Attorney Denise O'Donnell, Rochester Police Chief Robert Duffy, and representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement.

"Project Exile has proven that when federal and local law enforcement work as one, the results are tremendous," said Schumer. "In only one year, Project Exile has removed 166 guns and made the streets of Rochester safer. It has sent the simple message to those who commit crime with an illegallyowned gun that they will be aggressively prosecuted and they will do the time."

Project Exile is an experimental program operating in only three cities in the county: Richmond, VA, Philadelphia, PA and Rochester. The program is a collaboration between local police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and the US Attorney's Office to punsih violations of federal gun law, strictly enforce federal sentencing guidelines for illegal gun possession, put criminals behind bars longer, and get guns off the street.

In operation in Rochester since last summer, Project Exile has already been responsible for the prosecution of more than 30 individuals and the confiscation of 166 guns. City officials have credited Project Exile with helping to lower Rochester's homicide rate by 20%.

Cases prosecuted under Project Exile can add 2 to 4 years to a criminal's sentence. The program has also been used to deny bail to threefourths of the cases where the project has been involved.

"Before Project Exile, committing a crime with an illegal gun usually only led to a slap on the wrist," said Schumer. "But now, those wrists are slapped with handcuffs. Committing a crime with an illegal gun now means the law is going to go after you fullforce, and you are going to prison for a long time." Schumer announced that the success of Project Exile in cities like Rochester has led to a campaign in Congress to expand the program to 25 other highcrime cities nationwide. Last week, the Senate passed a bipartisan amendment to the Congressional Budget Resolution, co sponsored by Schumer, that calls for $50 million to be used to expand the program. If given final Congressional approval, Project Exile would be recognized as a federal law enforcement program.

"I am proud of the results Project Exile has had in Rochester, and I believe this program can have similar results for other cities across the nation that are under siege by criminals carrying illegal guns," said Schumer. "We won a major battle last week to have Project Exile continued in Rochester and expanded into other cities that can benefit from the Rochester model. Once my Congressional colleagues see the facts, I am confident we will be able to make Project Exile a permanent tool to fight the flow of illegal guns to our nation's streets."

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