Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the launch of a new law enforcement assistance program, the “National Public Safety Partnership,” as he kicked off a national summit on violent crime Tuesday.
Sessions touted the program as part of the fulfillment of President Donald Trump’s February executive order aimed at reducing crime. “Turning back the recent troubling increase in violent crime in our country is a top priority of the Department of Justice and the Trump Administration, as we work to fulfill the President’s promise to make America safe again,” he said in a statement accompanying the launch.
In his prepared remarks opening the National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety in Bethesda, Maryland, the attorney general outlined the problems these initiatives aim to tackle:
As all of you know first-hand, our nation’s violent crime rate is rising. In many of our urban areas, this increase is staggering. In 2015, we as a nation suffered the largest single-year increase in the violent crime rate since 1991, and the largest jump in the murder rate since 1968. The preliminary data for the first half of 2016 showed further increases, with large cities seeing an average increase in murders of nearly 22 percent compared with the same period the year before. This spike in violent crime is not happening in every neighborhood or city. But the trend is real and should concern us all. It must not continue.
Sessions then explained the mechanism of the new Partnership for Public Safety:
The PSP program will use data-driven, evidence-based strategies, and draw upon the expertise of people in the Department of Justice, as well as others.
Based on local needs, the PSP program will provide two complementary but separate tiers of help — Diagnostics Teams and Operations Teams. Diagnostic Teams will assess the local factors driving increased violent crime, and will help local leaders develop strategies to address those factors, over a period of up to 18 months.
Operations Teams will provide rigorous training and coaching over a three-year period. They will help communities form a lasting coordination structure among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Among other things, Operations Teams will provide enhanced crime trend analysis and comprehensive gun-crime intelligence programs.
Sessions’ address also included remarks on his hallmark topics of aggressive immigration enforcement, support for law enforcement, and efforts to combat transnational criminal gangs.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered his support of the efforts bring the law and order agenda of the Trump administration to fruition in his own remarks to the summit, saying:
Each of you believes that everyone in this country should be able to walk down the street without fear of being robbed, raped, or killed. You believe that parents should be able to send their children to school without worrying whether they will be targeted to join a gang or take drugs. You believe that we should be able to live in our neighborhoods without fear of violence. You believe in these ideals—our American ideals—and that is why you are here.
As you participate in the breakout sessions, allow these ideals to guide you. Rest assured that they are guiding the Department and its mission. Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes deeply in these ideals. That is why, pursuant to the President’s call to action, he created the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. That is why he convened you all here today.
The Partnership will initially include 12 major American cities: Birmingham, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Jackson, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; Lansing, Michigan; and Springfield, Illinois. More cities are expected to be announced as the program grows.
DOJ spokesman Ian Prior explained to Breitbart News:
Partner sites are selected through a process that considers both quantitative and qualitative measures, in consultation with United States Attorneys and DOJ law enforcement partners. To be considered for selection, a site must have levels of violence that far exceed the national average. PSP sites must also demonstrate a commitment to reducing violent crime and be ready to receive the intensive training and technical assistance available.
The Partnership’s website explains that each of the cities participating in the “operations approach” will be assigned a “DOJ Law Enforcement Champion” to help “navigate” access to federal resources.
This program for federal law enforcement assistance comes to these cities as Sessions’ DOJ seeks to choke off more traditional Justice Department grant programs to so-called “sanctuary cities.” Those efforts are ongoing but have encountered obstacles in the courts.