Justice Department announces nearly $80 million to help communities fight violent crime

Washington — The Justice Department is set to invest nearly $80 million more to support community violence intervention programs across the country as part of the federal government’s multifaceted strategy to counter years of increases crime rates, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday.

At the same time, Garland said federal law enforcement officials are turning their attention to reducing violence in St. Louis, Missouri; Jackson, Mississippi; and Hartford, Connecticut, as part of an ongoing initiative to increase resources to areas experiencing spikes in crime.

Homicides decreased 13% nationally in 2023, according to FBI statistics highlighted by Garland during a speech in Chicago. Generally, federal data indicates a 6% decrease in violent crime in communities across the country in 2023 compared to 2022.

Although he acknowledged that “there is still much to be done,” the attorney general attributed some of the decline in crime rates to community violence intervention programs. These initiatives – funded by grants from the Department of Justice – use evidence-based practices and data to work to end cycles of violence in communities considered most likely to commit or be victims of crime violent.

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland arrives to announce an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, March 21, 2024.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

According to Justice Department officials, populations across the country closest to the violence are also likely to be best equipped to find solutions, prevent escalations and stop acts of violence before they start. produce.

Over the past two years, the Justice Department has pumped about $200 million into 76 initiatives, including nonprofits, state and local municipalities, from the city of Richmond, Virginia, to an organization based in California aimed at reducing retaliation for gun violence.

A Newark-based organization – the Newark Community Street Team – received $2 million in grants from the Department of Justice to help in its work to reduce violence by “engaging in high-risk interventions” and providing support to survivors of violent crime.

“The Department of Justice is committed to continuing to make historic investments in responding to community violence,” Garland said Wednesday before a group of more than 700 people representing some of the grant recipients.

Yet gun violence remains the leading cause of death among young people, according to federal law enforcement officials who spoke about community programs last week. According to them, this statistic demonstrates the need to adopt targeted approaches to reducing crime among younger populations.

However, funding these local strategies can do little to quell violent crime, as illegal guns continue to flow into communities. Garland said the Justice Department is also working to crack down on the black market in guns.

“Violent crime isolates people and their communities. It deepens the divides in our public life,” he warned on Wednesday. “When this problem is not addressed, it can undermine citizens’ trust in government and each other.”

Faced with rising crime rates in 2021, the Department of Justice launched a Violent Crime Reduction Strategy to provide grants to target the epidemic of gun violence, the rise in hate crimes, and the shortage of officers in law enforcement nationwide. In November, the department announced nearly $217 million in funding to hire 1,730 entry-level officers in 394 agencies across 48 states through the Office of Police Services’ Hiring Program. community.

While violent crime declined last year in some of the nation’s largest cities — Philadelphia and Baltimore each saw a 20% reduction in homicides between 2022 and 2023, according to federal figures — it’s still unclear what effect federal programs have on perceptions in the United States. A Gallup poll released in November 2023 found that 77% of Americans believed there was more crime in the country than in 2022. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believed there was a crime problem. very” or “extremely” serious.


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