NEW ORLEANS – Today, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales visited New Orleans and announced additional federal resources to help fight violent crime that has risen in the months following Hurricane Katrina.
During his visit, the Attorney General toured state and local law enforcement facilities that remain damaged from Hurricane Katrina, including the Orleans Parish criminal justice complex and the New Orleans Police Department’s headquarters. He met with federal, state and local law enforcement officials to discuss ongoing collaborative efforts to fight crime and rebuild the community. The Attorney General also met with members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation and state and local government officials to discuss how the federal government can best assist state and local law enforcement in combating violent crime.
“The people of New Orleans deserve the chance to rebuild their city without the threat of violent crime,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “That’s why the Justice Department is committed to continuing our support of state and local law enforcement and to finding new ways to help reduce crime and strengthen the criminal justice system.”
Following the meeting with law enforcement, Attorney General Gonzales outlined additional resources the Justice Department will dedicate to fight violent crime in New Orleans, including:
*The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will send four special agents to the region to supplement the Violent Crime Impact Team that focuses on reducing gun crime. The U.S. Marshals Service will send four additional deputy marshals to supplement the Crescent Star Fugitive Task Force that locates and arrests violent felony fugitives.
*Ten attorneys will be temporarily assigned to the region to assist in prosecuting firearms, drug and immigration cases with a federal nexus, and an additional nine federal prosecutors will be hired who will assist with fraud and violent crime cases.
*The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and state and local law enforcement recently launched a Violent Crime Intelligence Initiative that gathers information on violent criminals, develops a most violent offenders list and distributes that information to federal, state and local law enforcement.
In addition, the Attorney General announced forthcoming resources to rebuild communities and provide ways for the residents of New Orleans to keep their children safe and to assist law enforcement:
*The Justice Department will work with local law enforcement and the National Police Athletic League (PAL) to establish a new PAL chapter in the city for the children of New Orleans. The PAL chapter will be made possible by a grant from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which will also support the PAL mission through technical assistance and other prevention resources that benefit America's youth.
*The Department of Justice will provide funds for and help establish Safe Havens in the three New Orleans Weed and Seed Sites by the fall of 2006. Safe Havens provide a secure recreation and learning environment for Weed and Seed communities, keeping children off the streets and out of trouble.
*The Boys and Girls Clubs of America will re-establish the clubs that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina with funding provided through the Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
*The ATF will relaunch the 24-hour ATF Gun Hotline which allows citizens to report the illegal use and possession of firearms for federal response. The hotline phone number (504-581-GUNS) will be advertised in public service announcements throughout New Orleans.
These new resources build upon the Department’s efforts in the last year to rebuild the greater New Orleans criminal justice system. Following Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana was a driving force in the creation and continued vitality of the Southeast Louisiana Criminal Justice Recovery Task Force, and the Department has made more than $20 million in grants available to the city of New Orleans and Orleans Parish to help rebuild the criminal justice system. In total, over $61 million in justice assistance grants and Katrina relief law-enforcement infrastructure funds have been made available to the state of Louisiana.