The following post appears courtesy Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP).
Last week at the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) Capital Conference, I was honored to receive the prestigious NDAA President’s Award and to deliver one of my last speeches as Assistant Attorney General. The occasion provided me the opportunity to reflect on the Department of Justice’s productive partnership with state and local prosecutors.
The elected prosecutor plays an indispensable leadership role, embodying the will of the community to address its most pressing crime and justice problems. In an era of diminishing resources and growing public safety responsibilities, that role is more important than ever. I am proud that the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) continues to provide these professionals with the tools they need to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
Through our Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), we have awarded almost $18.5 million to state and local prosecutors’ offices to support mortgage fraud investigation and prosecution, joining our work to a Department- and Administration-wide effort to fight this crime. NDAA has been a key training and technical assistance partner and is helping to develop a mortgage fraud training curriculum for prosecutors.
Prosecutors are also on the front line in our fight against child abuse and exploitation. OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and NDAA’s National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse have worked closely together to train and assist thousands of professionals who investigate and prosecute these cases. Last year alone, we provided training to more than 12,500 people.
And prosecutors are central to reducing the influence of gangs. With support from BJA, NDAA published a guide for prosecutors on the use of civil gang injunctions and has disseminated several thousand copies to jurisdictions across the nation. As a result of a site visit to Ogden, Utah conducted under the auspices of this project, prosecutors won an injunction against the Ogden Trece gang that resulted in a 40 percent decline in gang graffiti and a drop in overall gang crime of 10 percent from the previous year.
These are among the many areas in which OJP is supporting the work of state and local prosecutors. As I depart OJP at the end of February and hand over leadership to my Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Mary Lou Leary – herself a former prosecutor – I am satisfied that, thanks to strong partnerships with organizations such as NDAA, we will continue to make important gains in public safety.