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Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at the Justice Department Summit on Violent Crime Reduction


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you all for this productive discussion on what continues to be a profoundly challenging issue for our communities and our country.  As dedicated public servants and criminal justice professionals, you possess valuable experience, deep knowledge and critical insight about the ways we promote public safety and protect our citizens and  I am grateful that you have been able to participate in this conversation and share your expertise with me and with everyone assembled here.

We’ve covered a lot of ground today.  We’ve talked about the devastating effects of crime across the country and how it can break down the bonds that join us together.  We’ve talked about the shifting patterns of violence over time and how we have refocused on urgent threats while working to address enduring issues.  And we’ve talked about the difficulties of trying to break the entrenched cycles of poverty, criminality and dashed opportunity that impact our neighborhoods and degrade our communities.

Beyond these issues, we’ve talked constructively about the power of partnerships – not only between law enforcement officials at all levels of government, as embodied by this summit, but also between law enforcement and the citizens we serve.  That’s the kind of exciting and collaborative work I witnessed during my recent six-city community-policing tour, when I had the opportunity to see community leaders, public safety officers, elected officials and  young people joining together to build safer, stronger, more cohesive communities.

We’ve also talked about the ways the Department of Justice is bolstering this work, supporting our state and local partners and helping to advance our shared mission.  We are taking innovative new approaches to criminal justice and community policing, encapsulated by programs like the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, the Smart on Crime Initiative and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.  We are doing vital work with state and local law enforcement agencies through the recently expanded Violence Reduction Network, the Civil Rights Division’s efforts to ensure constitutional policing and major grant programs from the Office of Justice Programs and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.  And we are examining root causes of criminality and taking innovative steps to promote positive outcomes through organizations like the Federal Interagency Reentry Council – a government-wide body incorporating representatives of 20 federal agencies focused on helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully transition back into their communities through education, workforce training and other important programs.  In all these efforts, we’re working tirelessly and creatively, through a variety of channels, to reduce violent crime, to promote officer safety and to restore community trust and security across the country.

We also understand that these are multifaceted issues that must involve more than one kind of response.  Criminal justice professionals have an important role to play – but even as we focus on what law enforcement can do, we also need to discuss how we can alleviate some of the problems that stifle opportunity and lead to violence in the first place – from poverty, to substandard schools, to homelessness, to inadequate mental health services.  That’s why we are focused on strengthening our partnerships with other government agencies including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development.  It’s why we are examining holistic, comprehensive approaches.  And it’s why we will continue to build a strong and effective coalition to take on these complex challenges.

I want to thank everyone at the Department of Justice and at the White House who has made this convening possible, because gatherings like this one are a crucial part of forging productive partnerships and surfacing good ideas.  They allow us to learn from one another, to share stories and best practices and to find new solutions to old problems.  They make clear our shared determination to protect and empower our communities.  And they invigorate our individual and collective efforts as we look to the future and to the challenges that lie ahead.

I know that progress will not be immediate and certainly won’t be easy.  But I am confident that we are identifying effective ways to improve public safety – and putting them to good use.  I am encouraged by the spirit of engagement, the commitment to action and the ideals of service exemplified by the people in this room today.  And I am excited for all that we will achieve – together – in the days and months to come.

Thank you all for being here today.  Thank you for your dedication and hard work.  And thank you for taking part in this important and ongoing conversation.


Updated November 14, 2016