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Acting Assistant Attorney General for the
Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary Speaks
at the Visit to the San Jose, Calif.,
National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Site


San Jose, CA
United States

Thank you. I’m thrilled to be in San Jose.

I want to begin by thanking Mayor Reed and U.S. Attorney Haag for the warm California welcome. And let me say how incredibly impressed I am by the level of energy and commitment I’ve seen here. It’s wonderful to hear about the amazing work going on – and to see the excitement of everyone involved. It’s so very encouraging to see the progress being made on behalf of this city’s youth.

It’s a privilege to be here in Tony West’s home town to talk about the Department of Justice’s work to prevent and reduce youth and gang violence. This is a top priority of our Attorney General and a key concern of the Obama Administration. The President said recently that “we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe.” That’s what the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention is all about – protecting our kids and ensuring they have a future filled with promise. It’s why the White House is involved in leading this effort, and it’s why agencies from across the federal government are coming together, working with local leaders and community stakeholders. Because when it comes to our children, we can spare no effort.

At the Department of Justice and in my agency – the Office of Justice Programs – we’re moving on all fronts to help communities address youth violence. Through the Forum, we’re bringing together people from across the spectrum – mayors, law enforcement officials, educators, public health providers, faith-based representatives, parents, and teens – and we’re sharing ideas about how to leverage resources to address this problem. It’s worth mentioning that the Forum isn’t about money – it’s about maximizing existing resources.

That’s exactly what’s going on here in San Jose through efforts like the BEST Program, which supports a range of prevention and intervention activities; the Second Chance Act juvenile reentry initiative; and all the work being led by the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force. And it’s happening in other cities, as well – in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Memphis, and down the road in Salinas.

The message we’re sending is that youth violence is not inevitable. When communities engage partners across disciplines and use a data-driven, balanced approach – one that emphasizes prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry – they can reduce violence and improve outcomes for our youth.

This is very much a partnership, and I want to acknowledge our friends in the Departments of Education, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, for their collaboration. And I’d like to thank our private sector partners, as well. Their role in this effort is vital, and the resources they provide will, I am confident, help ensure our success.

It’s exciting to see the momentum that has been generated here in San Jose. In a short time, this city has made tremendous progress. You’ve shown what can be accomplished when we come together. The work you’re doing is making a difference, and we are proud to support you.

Now, I’m privileged to introduce someone who needs no introduction.

Tony West was raised in San Jose and he knows what this city is capable of when it’s confronted with a problem like youth violence.

Early this year, he was appointed Acting Associate Attorney General, which makes him the third-ranking official in the Department. He had only been in office three days when he paid a visit to my agency and made clear his support for our efforts to prevent and reduce youth violence. He’s a strong and committed advocate for kids, and he works hard every day to make sure the Department’s resources are directed to the problem of youth violence.

Please join me in welcoming Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West.

Updated September 17, 2014