Thank you, Congressman Chabot – it’s a privilege to be here in Cincinnati, to enjoy the generous hospitality of the citizens of the Buckeye State.
I want to thank Neil Tilow from the Talbert House and the wonderful folks who participated in the roundtable before this – we had a productive conversation and I'm proud to see DOJ dollars at work in this fine facility. I appreciate this chance to be with U.S. Attorney Greg Lockhart and Police Chief Tom Streicher.
Before we talk about the challenge that Cincinnati and so many other communities face when it comes to the plague of drug use and violent crime, I’d like to announce some good news for those who are fighting to protect their children from the threat of drugs all over the country:
I have approved the allocation of 23 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys to U.S. Attorney’s Offices nationwide, including one here in the Southern District of Ohio. These new AUSAs will be dedicated to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Their sole focus will be to prosecute major drug trafficking organizations.
As many of you know, the OCDETF is at the heart of the Department of Justice’s efforts to target and dismantle the trafficking organizations that bring drugs into our neighborhoods. It combines the expertise of multiple federal agencies, with foreign, state and local partners, to mount a comprehensive attack on major drug organizations and the financial infrastructure that supports them. We’re proud to add a significant number of new prosecutors to this already-successful program.
I know that Cincinnati has seen its share of pain when it comes to the subject of drug use, addiction and trade. Some people here know all too well that drugs can steal a childhood and extinguish dreams. You all have seen the trail of violent crime and destruction that networks of traffickers, dealers and affiliated gangs leave in their path.
So while Cincinnati has much to be proud of – strong families and great neighborhoods to raise those families in – I’m glad that there is an awareness that no neighborhood, no city, is ever immune from the destructive power of drugs or the reality of violent crime.
The ability of drugs to degrade a community and increase violent crime has been one of the more difficult things I’ve seen, up close, in my position as Attorney General. I’ve made combating methamphetamine a priority of our enforcement efforts and I am haunted by the stories of what that particular drug can do to individuals, families and communities.
While many are involved in drug use and drug trade voluntarily, the plague of drugs also claims innocent victims like the children of meth users. This cannot be tolerated by responsible government at any level.
As with any effective campaign against crime, coordination among local, state and federal officials is critical, through programs like Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). I’m pleased to report that, in Cincinnati since 2003, 82 defendants have been sentenced to average of 78 months for gun violations arising out of our PSN initiative. A child who grows up in a drug-infested, violent neighborhood is a child who has been robbed of hope. So I appreciate the solidarity of local law enforcement in Cincinnati and of Ohio’s state and federal officials as we work together to make our neighborhoods safer and drug-free. Because it is our job, our highest calling, to make sure that our children can grow up with all the hope and opportunity that this great nation promises all of its citizens.
Thank you again for having me here in Cincinnati. May God continue to bless this fine city, our country and our collective efforts to protect our children.
Please welcome Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher.