AG Garland Announces New Crime-Reduction Effort: More Grant Money, More 'Community Engagement,' But Not More Police Officers

Susan Jones | May 27, 2021 | 5:25am EDT
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(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

( - Addressing what he called "the recent increase in major violent crimes," Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced a new effort by the Justice Department to "help protect our communities."

The strategy is one of "partnerships," prevention programs, and federal-local cooperation to address an anticipated summertime crime spike. But Garland's memo says nothing about beefing up local police departments, many of them weakened by attrition amid the leftists' "defund-the-police" crusade.

In fact, Garland's memo specifically states: "We must also recognize that the fundamental goal of this work is to reduce the level of violence in our communities, not to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions as if they were ends in themselves."

Nor does Garland's memo say anything about the open southwest border, where tens of thousands of people, unidentified and unvetted, are pouring into this country, some of them drug traffickers and gang members. While the Biden administration insists that many single adults are removed from the U.S., an untold number slip past the Border Patrol every day.

The plan

“Today, we renew our commitment to reducing violent crime and building strong communities where all Americans are safe,” Attorney General Garland said in a news release full of jargon and “whole-of-government”-speak.

“The Deputy Attorney General is issuing a comprehensive strategy to deploy our federal resources in the most effective way, disrupting the most dangerous threats and supporting the ground-level efforts of local law enforcement.  In this endeavor, we will engage our communities as critical partners. And through our grantmaking, we will support programming at all stages – from the earliest violence interruption strategies to post-conviction reentry services.”

Garland described a "three-pronged" strategy:

1. Four fundamental principles will guide violence crime reduction, including:

-- "Meaningful law enforcement engagement with...the community";

-- Investments (federal grants) in prevention and intervention programs;

-- Focus limited resources on "the most significant drivers of gun violence and other crime";

-- Measure results: "Because the fundamental goal of this work is to reduce the level of violence in our communities, not to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions as if they were ends in themselves—we must measure the results of our efforts on these grounds."

2. Enhance the Project Safe Neighborhoods program;

3. The U.S. Attorney's Office is directed to work with state and local partners in drawing up an "immediate" plan to address spikes in violent crime that are typically seen during the summer.

Garland said the Justice Department recognizes that there is "no one-size-fits-all solution, and that the needs of each jurisdiction will vary based on the nature of violent crimes and the ability of local criminal justice systems to respond."

(Many local criminal justice systems have come under attack, some literally, as seasoned officers run for the exits amid efforts by the left to paint cops as racists or criminals. Some local official, as in Baltimore, are gutting the rule of law by excusing misdemeanors such as drug possession and petty theft.

To bolster the nation's weakened police forces, Garland said DOJ will provide "additional support where it is needed and appropriate," including embedding federal agents with local homicide units:

-- The FBI will make available cutting-edge analytical resources to support state and local law enforcement efforts to identify the most violent offenders and most dangerous criminal organizations in communities.  The FBI will then deploy agents to assist with enforcement operations targeting these entities.

-- Where feasible, the ATF will embed with local homicide units and expand the availability of its NIBIN Correlation Center, which matches ballistics from crime scenes to other ballistic evidence nationwide.

-- The DEA will focus its efforts, in coordination with state, local and Tribal law enforcement, to disrupt the activities of the most violent drug trafficking gangs and egregious drug-trafficking organizations operating in the highest-crime areas.

-- The United States Marshals Service, in coordination with state and local authorities, will conduct fugitive sweeps throughout the country focused on individuals subject to state or local warrants for homicide, aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated robbery, robbery with a firearm, rape or aggravated sexual assault.

-- The Department’s grantmaking components will highlight funding opportunities for community programs focused on reducing gun violence and other violent crime, share information about effective community-violence intervention programs, and provide training and technical assistance to support the violent crime reduction work of state, local, tribal and community partners.

In his memo, Garland wrote: "We are charged with the responsibility of seeking justice under the law. One of the most important components of that responsibility is doing all we can, consistent with our values, to reduce violent crime in our communities. It is a mission that affects not only whether people across the country are safe in their neighborhoods but also whether they have faith that we share the common goal of protecting the places we call home."

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