Dec. 19 (UPI) — The Justice Department has launched an operation to combat violent crime in seven of the country’s most violent cities.
Attorney General William Barr announced the launch of Operation Relentless Pursuit on Wednesday at a press conference in Detroit, Mich., with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Office, pledging to “surge” resources to law enforcement in Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee, which have violent crime rates higher than the national average.
“Americans deserve to live in safety,” he said in a statement. “And while nationwide violent crime rates are down, many cities continue to see levels of extraordinary violence. Operation Relentless Pursuit seeks to ensure that no American city is excluded from the peace and security felt by the majority of Americans, while also supporting those who serve and protect in these communities with resource, training and equipment they need to stay safe.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, violent crime is defined as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Barr said during the conference the operation is a two-prong attack against violent crime consisting of increasing the number of federal agents in the seven cities and providing them with resources to improve their capabilities over the long term.
Up to $71 million will be provided to law enforcement through grant funding that can be used to hire new officers, pay overtime and benefits, finance federally deputize task force officers and purchase equipment and technology, the Justice Department said.
Barr said the money could hire 400 new police officers for the seven cities.
“Essentially, what this involves is increasing the number of federal agents in these cities around whom we can build additional federal-state task forces,” which is the Justice Department’s principal tool for addressing violent crime in cities, he said.
Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, said too many of the country’s cities are plagued by violence and Operation Relentless Pursuit reflects the commitment of the nation’s law enforcement agencies to thwart violent crime.
“In today’s world, the threats we face are too diverse, too dangerous and too all encompassing for any of us to tackle alone, so all of us in law enforcement have to figure out a way to complement each other … and this initiative is a terrific example of that approach.”
Barr said fighting violent crime is one of the Trump administration’s priorities and though the crime rate has dropped by about 4 percent in the past few years, it can’t do it alone.
“It depends on collaboration with state and local partners,” he said.