Thank you, Mayor Nutter – and good afternoon, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be back at City Hall today – and an honor to join with United States Attorney Memeger, District Attorney Williams, and Commissioner Ramsey – along with leaders from the FBI, ATF, DEA, and U.S. Marshals Service – in announcing the latest steps that our nation’s Department of Justice is taking to support – and to strengthen – the critical work of our law enforcement partners here in Philadelphia.
Despite the fact that the national violent crime rate has continued its downward trend, a number of major cities across the country – including Philadelphia – have experienced alarming increases in the number of homicides over the past year. In response, the Department of Justice has developed a new initiative – known as the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership – to help target federal resources to areas in need of additional support.
Early last month, more than 50 federal law enforcement officials – including agents, investigators, and intelligence analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the United States Marshals Service; and representatives of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division – began a four-month “surge” of federal law enforcement resources in order to prevent and combat violent and drug-related crime across the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
In close collaboration with Mayor Nutter, District Attorney Williams, Commissioner Ramsey, and the dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department, these federal leaders will help to build capacity, enhance training, coordinate community outreach efforts, bolster intelligence analysis capabilities, and help plan and execute sophisticated criminal investigations and prosecutions. They will spearhead efforts to make the most of precious taxpayer resources – and to strengthen high-priority enforcement activities in neighborhoods that are plagued by crime and violence.
Already, our agents have helped apprehend dangerous fugitives, investigate armed robberies, gather and process valuable intelligence, and bring criminals to justice. They’ve deployed new, state-of-the-art equipment to support ballistics identification in gun-related crimes. And in the coming months – as they continue to work alongside, and reinforce relationships with, key local partners like many of the leaders in this room – their activities will help to refine an innovative public safety approach that is beginning to show signs of tremendous promise.
Earlier this year, ATF personnel completed a similar fourth-month “surge” in Oakland, California, which Oakland Police Department officials have credited with contributing to a significant reduction in crime. The Justice Department is currently examining ways to provide this type of targeted assistance and relief to other metropolitan areas, as needed. And we’re actively seeking to learn from the successes we’ve had, to build on the track record we’ve established, and to continue to make good on our commitment to local law enforcement.
Especially in this time of economic and budgetary challenges – when police departments and other agencies at every level of government have been called upon to confront growing demands with increasingly limited resources – the need for cooperation and coordination among all relevant authorities has never been more clear.
Fortunately – for today’s Justice Department, and for the entire Obama Administration – helping to close these gaps, improve public safety, and stand with every member of the “thin blue line” remains a top priority.
From last month’s announcement – right here in Philadelphia – of more than $111 million in COPS Hiring Program grant awards to save or create jobs for approximately 800 officers – including more than $3 million for this city to hire 25 new officers – to our efforts to better understand and address the threats that law enforcement officers face every day – I’m proud to report that our dedication to ensuring the safety, and the success, of America’s law enforcement officers has never been stronger.
Today’s announcement underscores this fact – and reaffirms our resolve to work with indispensible allies like Mayor Nutter, D.A. Williams, and Commissioner Ramsey to make the progress we need – and that the American people deserve. I’d like to thank each of them – along with the brave men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department, and all of the federal agents, investigators, attorneys, analysts, and support staff on the front lines of this work – for leading our efforts to keep our communities safe and our neighborhoods secure.
Now, it’s my privilege to turn things over to another key partner in this work – my good friend, United States Attorney Memeger.