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Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks
at the Visit to the San Jose, Calif.,
National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Site


San Jose, CA
United States

Thank you, Mary Lou, for that kind introduction. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, for being here today and for all the work that her office is doing to reduce youth violence in the Northern District of California. Attorney General Holder often says our U.S. Attorneys are community problem solvers, not case processors, and that could not be truer of Melinda and her dedicated staff.

Let me also thank your great mayor, Chuck Reed. I've known Mayor Reed for most of my life and there is no one who cares more about this city, about its future and its people, than Chuck Reed. And it's an honor to be with him today.

I think Mary Lou really summed it up well so I'll be brief. By emphasizing collaborative partnerships, evidence-based and data-driven strategies and a balanced, holistic approach, we know we can help communities to curb violence and promote the health, safety and development of our young people.

San Jose is doing just this, which is why it's one of six cities that are part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. The San Jose team has been working hard over the last 20 months to implement concrete strategies to coordinate their youth violence prevention activities.

And what San Jose is doing aligns well with the work we're doing at the Department of Justice. Attorney General Eric Holder’s comprehensive Anti-Violence Strategy, led by our Nation’s U.S. Attorneys, focuses on a "three-legged stool" approach to reducing and preventing crime through enforcement, prevention, and reentry.  San Jose's anti-violence plan involves not just law enforcement, but schools, the Faith community, the business community and public health experts.

And because we want more cities to do what San Jose is doing, we're expanding this violence prevention conversation to other cities across the nation. This fall, we will be announcing four additional cities to participate in the National Forum, bringing the total number to ten. And San Jose will have a lot to share with those new National Forum cities when they join the conversation.

Now, all of us are here because we're deeply committed to tackling the challenge of preventing youth and gang violence in our communities.

We're here because, according to the CDC, homicide is the second leading cause of death among young people -- the first if you're an African-American or Latino youth -- and because before this day is out, 14 more kids will lose their lives to violence.

We're here because a majority of kids – over 60 percent – regardless of race – are exposed to some form of violence, crime, or abuse, ranging from brief encounters as witnesses to being direct victims themselves.

And we're here because San Jose is part of the solution.

I have to say that it was no surprise to me when I learned that San Jose was selected as a National Forum city. This city's commitment to reducing violence is long-standing and real. There's a reason why San Jose is rightfully known as one of the safest big cities in America. You were doing collaboration before it was fashionable. You were investing in evidence-based strategies before it was commonplace. San Jose has been exploring innovative and effective violence prevention strategies for decades.

And I know this because this is the city where I grew up. It's where I went to school and where my parents live still. It's where I learned to be a lawyer as a young prosecutor up the street in the U.S. Attorney's Office. San Jose taught me that you can bring people together with very different perspectives to solve common problems. So I'm not surprised this is a National Forum city that can serve as a model to others.

Now, the San Jose team will be the first to admit that the City is not perfect; we still have challenges here, as yesterday's events demonstrate. We still have work to do. But one of the great things about this City is that it is continually in a state of becoming, of trying new strategies and new approaches; of never being afraid to tackle old challenges such as youth violence with new ideas.

So I'm delighted to be back home in San Jose, proud to be a son of San Jose, and I'm please to be a part of today's site visit.

Updated September 17, 2014