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Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks Announcing New Nationwide Public Safety Commitments


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, Deputy Attorney General Monaco.

The number one issue we hear about from state, Tribal, and local law enforcement is the recruitment and retention crisis. Through the COPS Hiring Program, we provide funding directly to law enforcement agencies to address this crisis and hire officers in their communities. This year’s 394 awards, totaling nearly $217 million, will help agencies in 48 states hire 1,730 new officers. We are supporting agencies small and large, in big cities and small towns across the country, with almost half of the awards going to departments in rural areas.

This year, we prioritized funding for projects and initiatives at the core of our Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, including building legitimacy and trust, community-based approaches to gun violence, and responses to individuals in crisis. To take one example, Mendota, California, will use COPS Hiring funds in its comprehensive approach to residents experiencing mental health crisis, addiction, and homelessness, by hiring additional officers to work alongside trained behavioral health professionals responding to such incidents.

We are also announcing almost $74 million through the COPS School Violence Prevention Program. This year our funding will reach 3,974 schools and more than 1.5 million students across the country. For example, the Safford (Arizona) Unified School District is located in a rural area with persistent poverty, and will use funds to improve communications systems, primarily through integrating phones and Public Address systems to ensure consistency and reliability, including for dialing 9-1-1.

And we are issuing another $43.6 million through the Community Policing Development Program, which aims to develop and study promising practices and creative approaches to preventing crime and keeping communities safe. This year’s awards include 47 awards across 26 states to support accreditation, which is a particular challenge for small, rural, and Tribal law enforcement agencies, and 51 awards for de-escalation training, including 27 awards for small agencies. For example, in Leon County, Florida, we are supporting the Sheriff’s Office in a research partnership to analyze data on successful uses of de-escalation techniques. 

In addition to this critical funding from the COPS Office, I am thrilled to announce five new cities joining the National Public Safety Partnership (PSP), run by our Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). PSP was founded on the idea that no two cities are alike, and that efforts to reduce violence are most effective when local, state, tribal, and federal leaders engage together in a unified, strategic approach. Each city receives coordinated training and technical assistance resources from across the Justice Department, from our grantmaking offices to our law enforcement components. 

PSP has worked with more than 50 jurisdictions to increase their capacity to reduce violent crime. And we have a proven track record of helping partner sites reduce shootings, improve homicide clearance rates, and improve quality of life for community members.

This year we are adding five new PSP partner cities:

  • Knoxville, Tennessee;
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • Raleigh, North Carolina;
  • San Antonio, Texas; and
  • Vallejo, California.

Each of them will develop a PSP Violence Reduction Strategic Plan, with measurable goals, implementation strategies, and progress evaluations, to help build and sustain their violence reduction efforts.  We are excited to welcome this new cohort and look forward to working with each of them.

Finally, next month — December 11-13 — in Indianapolis, Indiana, BJA is bringing together 1,500 local and federal partners for a Violent Crime Reduction Summit. Representatives from the 50+ PSP jurisdictions and from Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide crime reduction initiative with a local coordinator in all 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, will share promising practices and highlight successful strategies for reducing crime.

Before I close, I want to thank the leaders and staff in our COPS Office and Office of Justice Programs, as well as our Office on Violence Against Women, all of whom work tirelessly throughout the year to issue and support more than $5 billion in grants that support critical public safety and criminal justice initiatives.

I’ll now turn to Mayor Castor to talk about the impact of the COPS grants her city is receiving this year.

Updated November 3, 2023