Grant could stifle gunshots
Natalie Stahl holds up the framed proclamation of her neighborhood as a federal Weed and Seed participant.

Federal funding for a Glendale neighborhood might just make a fantasy world become a reality for its residents.

"I live in this little dream world that good will prevail," Natalie Stahl said.

Living with the constant fear of being hit by a stray bullet is something she believes no one should have to do. The same goes for regularly hearing gunshots in the neighborhood or having a gun battle erupt down the street late at night.

"If you haven't heard gunfire at night, you can't describe it," Stahl said. "Your blood turns to ice."

She hopes that money from a federal grant will help make shots ringing out in the darkness of the Orchard Glen neighborhood a little less likely. The $25,000 Project Safe Neighborhood grant will be used to fund overtime costs for officers working in the downtown Glendale neighborhood.

The goal of the federal program, funded through the U.S. Attorney's Office, is to get guns off the street.

"Just because weapons aren't being fired doesn't mean people aren't possessing them," Stahl said. "The crime and violence (in Orchard Glen) usually stems around a weapon - if you can get the weapon out of it, you can make a difference."

Because of the federal funding, Stahl said that all gun crimes in the neighborhood - whether they are actually fired or if someone is illegally in possession of a firearm - will now be prosecuted as a federal crime. That means a longer prison sentence in the remarkably harsher environment of the federal prison system.

Stahl, the mother of two, envisions the word spreading among the criminal element in the surrounding area after a few of the gang-bangers are sent away to Kansas or Colorado for merely possessing a gun.

"All of the sudden, the roaches scatter," Stahl said. "There's other places they can hide."

The grant is the first tangible effect of being named a Weed and Seed neighborhood by the U.S. Attorney's Office last year. By being designated a Weed and Seed neighborhood, Orchard Glen became eligible for federal funding and is working in tandem with the police and U.S. Attorney's Office to significantly reduce crime.

"It's nice to see things are starting to happen and money is coming this way," Stahl said. "Any money that comes from the federal government is good money to have."

The money will help subsidize the costs of overtime for members of the police department's neighborhood response and gang enforcement units.

Stahl also hopes it delivers one message loud and clear to law-breakers:

"This is not a safe place to have guns. We're not going to tolerate it anymore."