Thank you, David, for those kind words – and good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be in New Haven today – and a privilege to join you, Governor Malloy, Senator Blumenthal, Chief Esserman, and so many dedicated civic leaders, community representatives, and concerned citizens – for this important announcement.
With the launch of Project Longevity, we’re opening a new chapter in the fight against violent crime here in New Haven. We’re signaling our renewed commitment to working collaboratively – across levels of government and jurisdictional boundaries – to address the violence that menaces too many neighborhoods and claims far too many innocent lives. And we’re leveraging the strength of our collective efforts not only to develop innovative, data-driven strategies for combating this epidemic – but to foster robust and lasting engagement between federal, state, and local leaders, as well as community organizations, academic experts, and law enforcement professionals.
By identifying and targeting the groups that are responsible for violence throughout this city – and, eventually, the entire State of Connecticut – Project Longevity will send a powerful message to those who would harm their fellow citizens: that such acts will not be tolerated; that they will be swiftly met with clear, predictable consequences; and that help is available for all those who wish to break the cycle of violence and gang activity.
Although – as David mentioned – Connecticut has experienced an overall decrease in violent crime rates over the last year, shootings and homicides remain all too common in cities like Bridgeport, Hartford, and right here in New Haven. In many cases, the victims of these crimes are children and young people. And we’ve seen that traditional enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration strategies – by themselves – simply won’t be enough to bring about the sustainable progress we need.
That’s why I’m here to pledge the Justice Department’s strong support – and my own best efforts – in advancing this, and other, front-line approaches for combating gang violence and ensuring the safety and stability of our neighborhoods. By bringing federal, state, and local authorities to the table to formulate comprehensive solutions, I’m confident that Project Longevity will enable us to bring new resources – and fresh perspectives – to this fight. It will empower law enforcement officers, community leaders, and service providers to help guide and inform our overall anti-violence strategy. And it will allow us to build on the successes we’ve seen in a number of other cities – where similar initiatives have shown tremendous promise – and on the broad-based, collaborative work that, across the country, today’s Justice Department is helping to lead.
From the landmark Defending Childhood Initiative – which we launched in 2010 – to the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, my colleagues and I at the federal level are working with a range of partners to develop ways to reduce violence among, or directed toward, our nation’s young people – and to counter its negative impact. Through the Department’s Office of Justice Programs, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Institute of Justice, we’re refining our knowledge base and enhancing our understanding of crime trends through rigorous scientific inquiry. Based on this research, we’re improving our ability to target law enforcement resources to crime “hot spots.” We’re providing critical support for high-priority enforcement activities in high-crime neighborhoods. And we’re working to strengthen reentry policy, to deter formerly incarcerated individuals from re-offending, and to ensure that they can successfully rejoin their communities and become productive members of society.
City by city – block by block – these efforts are making a meaningful, measurable difference. They’re enabling us to be smart, as well as tough, on crime – and to think more creatively, and act more collaboratively, than ever before. And, through innovative, locally-driven partnerships like the one we announce today – and thanks to the dedication of leaders like Governor Malloy, United States Attorney Fein, Chief Esserman, and all of the community members, advocates, and experts in this room – there’s no question that we stand poised to take this work to a new level.
As we strive to carry these efforts into the future, I will continue to rely on – and to be grateful for – your leadership. I’m honored to count each of you as colleagues and partners. And I look forward to all that we must – and surely will – accomplish together in the days ahead.