Reducing violent crime is one of this office’s top priorities. As our state struggles with budget challenges, our local law enforcement partners are asked to do more with less. To ensure public safety, the federal government is stepping up to do more to reduce violent crime. Our strategy includes enforcement, prevention and community engagement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has partnered with other members of the law enforcement community to form the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership (“CVRP”) in Detroit. Our goal is to use our collective resources strategically to reduce violent crime. Members include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan Department of Corrections, the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, among others. Officers and agents are co-located, using crime data and sharing leads. During the summer months, the CVRP took more than 50 illegal firearms off the streets, including semi-automatic weapons.
Similarly, in Flint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is working with the City of Flint to support its Cease fire initiative, a violence reduction strategy that uses data-driven enforcement, community engagement and education, and youth intervention.
Here at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we have launched a new Violent and Organized Crime Unit, staffed with some of our best prosecutors. They are focusing their energies on prosecuting violent street gangs, home invasion crews and armed robbery conspiracies.
But history tells us that we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem. Reducing violence requires not just enforcement, but also prevention. We have been working with the City of Detroit and community leaders to bring together the faith, business, philanthropic, public health, education and law enforcement communities to examine the prevention of youth violence, and to develop a comprehensive strategy.
Here at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our lawyers regularly visit schools to tell students about the consequences of illegal firearms and illegal drugs. In August, we sponsored Camp DEFY at a YMCA camp in Fenton, where 100 at-risk teens participated in outdoor activities and received mentoring and training from law enforcement officers in conflict resolution, drug awareness, and making good choices. This fall, we will revive our Explorer Scouts program, in which at-risk students are exposed to careers in law enforcement.
Prevention is not aimed solely at youth. We also seek to reduce crime committed by repeat offenders. Statistics show that 67 percent of offenders will commit another crime. In our Face to Face program, we meet with felons recently released from prison. We explain to them the consequences of failing to comply with the law. At these meetings, the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative provides them with information about how to obtain job training, drug treatment and counseling, and other services needed to be successful in society. Our goal is to prevent offenders from re-offending.
The other essential component of reducing violent crime is community engagement. We need citizens to provide tips, to serve as witnesses, and to report crime. We need to defeat the so-called “anti-snitch” campaigns that frustrate law enforcement efforts. But we understand that trust must be earned.
In August, the members of CVRP hosted a town hall meeting at Fellowship Chapel in Northwest Detroit to explain to the community the work that we were doing and to ask for their help. More than 400 citizens attended. Agents have been knocking on doors to talk with citizens about the public safety concerns. Members of the law enforcement community also participated in an NAACP forum in June regarding youth violence prevention. The response to these outreach efforts has been extremely positive.
We know that we have more work to do to earn the public trust, and we will continue to work to earn it.
Michigan is a great place to live and work, and public safety is essential for the quality of life we all deserve.
Barbara L. McQuade
United States Attorney