Skip to main content
Speech

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference's General Assembly

Location

Dallas, TX
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Good morning. It feels like I’m in the middle of a rock concert. I haven’t been in a room with this many people since a rock concert.

Dwight, Vince, Terry – I can’t see you but I assume you’re out here right in front here – and members of the boards of directors and other leadership whom I was able to meet with this morning: thank you so much for inviting me to join you for the 2022 IACP Annual Conference, and for your leadership of this extraordinary organization.

For over 126 years, the IACP has brought officers from across the country and around the world together to share information, best practices, research, training, and support.  

Over the course of the past two decades, nearly every Attorney General from every Administration has spoken at this conference. I appreciate the opportunity to continue that tradition.

In fact, this is a bit of a full-circle moment for me.

My first job at the Justice Department was as a special assistant to Attorney General Ben Civiletti.

In 1979, my first year in that position, Attorney General Civiletti addressed the IACP Annual Convention – Conference, sorry – right here in Dallas, right here at the Convention Center.

In his remarks, he said: “In the rush of daily work, it is often easy to think of ourselves as separate entities: The Department of Justice involved in the prosecution of federal crimes, the police departments involved in investigations of all state and local offenses.”

Instead, he urged, “we must reach out more to each other, and we must above all support one another…”

More than four decades have passed since Attorney General Civiletti spoke those words. But their wisdom – and the Department’s commitment to supporting you – remain unchanged.

And like my former boss, I know full well that the Justice Department would not be able to fulfill its mission without the work that everyone in this room does, every single day.  

Today, I want to address the three principal goals that motivate and guide the Department’s approach to our law enforcement partnerships: keeping our communities safe; building public trust; and ensuring officer health, safety, and wellness.

First, we are all united by the same goal: to keep our communities and our country safe. The Justice Department is committed to working with you to meet the greatest public safety challenges of this moment – from nationwide concerns about violent crime and fentanyl poisoning, to the unique difficulties facing individual communities.

That is why each of our 94 United States Attorney’s Offices are working alongside their state and local partners to develop and implement district-specific violent crime reduction strategies.

That is why, last year, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco directed all U.S. Attorneys to strengthen their coordination with law enforcement and community partners in implementing our Project Safe Neighborhoods program.

That is why the Department’s grantmaking components continue to play an essential role in our joint efforts to keep our communities safe. In addition to providing financial assistance to local law enforcement agencies across the country, our grantmaking components continue to offer support, targeted technical assistance, and help to uplift best practices in the field.

And that is why each of our law enforcement components is working with its state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners.

Just last month, DEA and our law enforcement partners concluded a four-month operation that resulted in the removal of 36 million lethal doses of fentanyl from American communities.

The FBI also recently concluded a four-month operation in partnership with local and state law enforcement agencies. Together, we seized more than 2,700 firearms, disrupted hundreds of violent gangs and criminal enterprises, and arrested thousands of alleged violent criminals and gang members.

Our U.S. Marshals are continuing their work alongside state and local law enforcement to apprehend the most dangerous fugitives. This past summer, U.S. Marshals conducted a 30-day anti-violent crime operation in which they apprehended 1,500 dangerous fugitives in 10 cities across the country.

And our ATF agents are part of multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional violent crime task forces across the country. That includes the five cross-jurisdictional strike forces we launched last year to crack down on illegal gun trafficking.

These efforts highlight what everyone in this room knows: when we work together as partners, we make real differences in our communities. 

Second, to fulfill our shared public mission, we must all earn and maintain the trust of the public we serve.  

The Justice Department has and will continue to work with you to advance the accountability and transparency that reflect the very best of our profession.

As you know, the Justice Department has an obligation to ensure constitutional policing practices. As I have said many times, we are committed to doing this work collaboratively.

For example, early in my tenure, I asked Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta to undertake a review of monitorships associated with pattern-or-practice investigations and settlements. During that review, the Department heard from IACP members and leaders about how to make those arrangements more effective. And we listened to what you had to say.

As I announced at last year’s IACP conference, at the conclusion of that review, the Associate Attorney General recommended, and I agreed to, a set of 19 actions to improve monitorships. We are grateful for the feedback we received from the IACP, and so many others in the law enforcement community, concerning that process.

The Justice Department is also fortunate that the IACP is the lead law enforcement partner with us on the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center, or CRI-TAC.

Through CRI-TAC’s “by the field, for the field” approach, the Department can facilitate tailored, short-term technical assistance on more than 60 subjects.

Last year, CRI-TAC worked with 171 law enforcement agencies.

So far this year, CRI-TAC has served 205 jurisdictions.

We are grateful for the IACP’s partnership and leadership in this effort. And we will continue to look for ways to collaborate in pursuit of our mission to keep our communities safe by building and retaining their trust.

Finally, we recognize that our success on every front depends on the health, wellness, and safety of law enforcement officers. 

I do not need to tell anyone in this audience about the dangers and difficulties law enforcement officers face every single day. Indeed, last week’s terrible attack on law enforcement in Connecticut serves as a recent, tragic reminder.

Across the country, police officers have been targeted with extraordinary levels of violence and illegal threats of violence. This is unacceptable. We have marshaled the resources of the Justice Department to deter and combat illegal threats of violence and violence against law enforcement officers and to hold perpetrators accountable.

You deserve the support and resources that you need to stay safe and healthy. And the Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that you get them.

As I said earlier this year at IACP’s Officer Safety and Wellness Symposium in Atlanta, I know that our nation asks law enforcement officers to respond to some of the most difficult moments that our communities face.

The Justice Department is here to support state and local officers. We are proud to do that work alongside the IACP.

The IACP is currently implementing several key pieces of our VALOR officer safety and wellness initiative, the largest program of its kind nationally. VALOR offers trainings, research, and guidance on preventing violence against law enforcement and supporting officer wellness.

More than 100,000 officers have benefited from VALOR program training, including 3,000 thus far in 2022.

Those of us in this room also understand how issues related to officer safety and wellness affect officer recruitment and retention, and vice versa. To address this important issue, both our Office of Justice Programs and our Office of Community Oriented Policing Services – the COPS Office – are continuing to work on a number of programs and initiatives focused on supporting, recruiting, and retaining officers.

In addition, the COPS Office continues to administer the COPS Hiring Program, which provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies to bring on more officers.

And I want to take this opportunity to note that the Bureau of Justice Assistance will soon be releasing a publication on this topic – the Blueprint for Recruitment and Retention in the 21st Century. We hope that this resource will help law enforcement agencies develop comprehensive recruitment and retention strategies.

Together with the IACP, we will continue our efforts to ensure that you and your colleagues have the resources you need and deserve.

Law enforcement is a noble and indispensable profession. At the Justice Department, we recognize all that you do for our communities.  We see all that you risk for them. We understand the enormous stress that you are under. And we appreciate the immense dangers that you face. 

On behalf of Deputy Attorney General Monaco, Associate Attorney General Gupta, and our many law enforcement agency and component heads who are here at this conference: Thank You. You do not hear those words enough.

We are proud to stand with you, united in our commitment to keep this country safe, to uphold the rule of law, and to ensure equal justice under law. Together, that is exactly what we will do.

Thank you, again.


Topics
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Civil Rights
Drug Trafficking
Updated October 18, 2022