Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Mobile Weed and Seed Event [NOTE: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OFTEN DEVIATES FROM PREPARED REMARKS] Mobile, Alabama August 15, 2001
I'm happy to be here in Mobile and to have this opportunity to see some of the outstanding work you're doing to drive crime out of your neighborhoods and to make them safe places for families to live, work, and play.
Yesterday, I visited the Weed and Seed program in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And, while that program is impressive, it can learn from Mobile's 7-year history of community leaders and residents working together to identify the problems, and developing plans to solve the problems together to overcome the hurdles to reach success.
I know my good friend, Senator Jeff Sessions, was instrumental in launching Weed and Seed here in Mobile when he served as US Attorney. Thank you for inviting me here, Jeff, and for all you and the residents of the great southern State of Alabama are doing to reduce crime and send criminals the message that they are not welcome here.
I also thank Mayor Dow, Chief Cochran, and Sheriff Tillman for your leadership in these efforts, and for the contributions of all the community partners whose cooperation and coordination have made this program work.
And thanks to our hosts for this afternoon, the Greater Mobile Boys & Girls Club.
I know Boys & Girls Clubs are making a positive difference in the live of millions of young people across this country today. The Clubs combine a safe environment with wholesome recreational and educational activities provided by positive adult role models who help kids grow up to become contributing members of our communities.
Thanks to Clyde McGuire and all the Boys & Girls Club staff for the outstanding work you're doing with young people.
I also recognize the work by the members of the Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team to reduce crime and illegal drug use in your city.
This kind of coordination between the police and sheriff's departments are critical to effective enforcement operations and to ensuring the safety of our communities.
I'm pleased that the Justice Department - through Operation Weed and Seed - has been able to support your efforts here in Mobile with grants totaling almost $2 million since 1994.
Last month, we awarded another $175,000 to support a third Weed and Seed site here in Mobile, in the Trinity Gardens neighborhood. And the original sites in the Mayesville and Martin Luther King neighborhoods are still going strong.
Because of the commitment of all the Weed and Seed partners, Mobile has seen an overall 15 percent reduction in violent and drug-related crime in the three neighborhoods.
You're using advanced technology to map out crime hot-spots and deploy enforcement efforts to high-crime areas. You're partnering with a local television station to broadcast FBI most wanted criminals information in the city, to involve residents in identifying dangerous felons and getting them off our streets.
You've established computer, homework, and jobs centers.
And you've revived the Mobile Police Department's Explorer Program, with posts in the Weed and Seed neighborhoods, to involve young people with the police in a positive way - in learning about law enforcement and helping to enhance the safety of their community.
I'm proud of the work you're doing here in Mobile. In fact, I know you were recognized last year by the Justice Department's Executive Office for Weed and Seed for your accomplishments.
Your dedication is making a difference - block by block, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood - for the people who live here.
Thank you all for your outstanding commitment to your community, and keep up the good work. Thank you very much.