The Justice Department has picked a dozen U.S. cities for intensive assistance fighting a rash of violent crime, including murders.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the coordinated help Tuesday from various branches of the Justice Department, including federal prosecutors in U.S. Attorneys offices, agents from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, and officials who oversee law-enforcement-focused grants.
“Turning back the recent troubling increase of 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,” Sessions said as the Justice Department kicked off a two-day summit in Bethesda, Maryland, spotlighting strategies for cracking down on violent crime . “The Department of Justice will work with American cities suffering from serious violent crime problems."
The initial round of cities selected for the newly-created Public Safety Partnership are: 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.
The new program will include "diagnostic teams" aimed at identifying crime-fighting strategies for cities experiencing serious violent crime issues and "operations teams" that will embark on a three-year effort involving training, coaching, and increased collaboration between prosecutors, law enforcement and probation agencies.
Several cities struggling with a significant surge in murders, including Baltimore and Chicago, were notably absent from the list. It was not immediately clear whether they were not invited to join or whether they were and declined to participate. Also unclear is what advantage, if any, cities that join the new partnership will have in competitive grant programs.
The Justice Department did say it plans to add more cities to the list later this year.