Remarks as prepared for delivery
Thank you, Andrew for that introduction, and thank you for your decade of service in the District Attorney’s office, and your service in the Coast Guard.
This marks my 33rd U.S. Attorney’s office to visit this year. On behalf of the President, I want to thank all of our Assistant U.S. Attorneys, the support staff here, and our state and local law enforcement officers.
Thank you for all you do, day in and day out. You all that make the difference on the front lines.
I especially want to thank FBI Special Agent in Charge John Strong, U.S. Marshal Kelly Nesbit, Director Robert Schurmeier of the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, as well as our Sheriffs, police chiefs, and the state and local law enforcement officers who are here with us today. And congratulations on your retirement, Kelly.
The President and I are proud to stand with all of you.
On Friday the President spoke at the FBI National Academy Graduation ceremony. He’s the first President to do so in 46 years. He said, loud and clear, “America’s police have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House…The President of the United States has your back 100 percent.”
This President was elected as the law and order President.
He was elected to make American safe again and to once again have the backs of our men and women in blue.
And that mission has never been more important.
It was largely because of dedicated law enforcement officials like you that crime declined in America for 20 years.
It took decades of hard and dangerous work—but it saved lives and made countless lives better.
But sadly, over the last two years, the trends have reversed. The violent crime rate is up by nearly seven percent. Murder is up by more than 20 percent.
I strongly believe that these trends are not a blip or an anomaly. I know everyone in this room works day and night to combat this trend, but I fear that, if we do not act now and smartly—and surge our resources to the areas that need them—this nation could see decades of progress reversed.
Sadly, this beautiful city has not been immune to these problems. Over just the last two years, the violent crime rate is up by nearly a quarter; robbery is up by a third; assault is up by 29 percent, and murders are up a staggering 42 percent.
And as we all know, these are not just numbers—these are moms, dads, daughters, spouses, friends, and neighbors. These are empty places at Christmas dinner this year and holes in the hearts and souls of victims’ families that will never close.
But let me tell you: I will not accept rising crime. Plain and simple, we will not allow the progress made by our women and men in blue over the past two decades to simply slip through our fingers now. We will not cede a community, a block, or a street corner to violent thugs or poison peddlers.
As Attorney General, I am committed to combating the surge in violent crime and supporting the work of our police officers. I have made it one of our top priorities both in word and deed.
The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me an executive order to reduce crime in America.
At the Department of Justice, we embrace that goal. And you and I know from experience that it can be done.
At the Department of Justice, we are well aware that 85 percent of law enforcement is state, local, and tribal. These are the officers that have the critical street level intelligence regarding the criminal element.
We are most effective when experienced state and local investigators are paired with the resources and expertise of our federal law enforcement.
And the U.S. Attorney’s office here knows this well. Because its this type of collaboration that led to the indictment of 83 Bloods gang members earlier this year.
This operation—with more than 600 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers involved—serves as a wonderful example of what we can achieve we work together.
And a special thank you to those of you in this room from FBI, US Marshals, North Carolina SBI, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Shelby Police Department, the Gastonia Police Department, and the Cleveland County Sherriff’s office for making that happen. And to our AUSAs—Matt Warren, Chris Hess, Andrew Chreighton.
It was impressive work and the kind we want to replicate. No one should doubt that with this success against gangs like these, crime and violence will fail.
That’s why today I am here to announce two new violent crime task forces that will focus on the areas most in need here in the Charlotte area and Western Pennsylvania.
The violent crime rate in Charlotte is high. In Pittsburgh, it’s even higher.
But we will not be complacent and accept the status quo. We will rise to meet this challenge.
The Charlotte violent crime task force I announced will bring together federal agents and local law enforcement officers, and it will be assigned to the FBI Charlotte Division Headquarters.
Gang-related crime is already being addressed by the FBI’s Charlotte Division Safe Streets Task Force, so this new Violent Crime Task Force will concentrate on other violent criminal activity—like bank robberies, carjacking, kidnappings or extortion. This new task force will help the FBI and local police communicate, coordinate, and ensure that we’re not duplicating our efforts.
Violent crime has been increasing here in America and in Charlotte—and that is deeply troubling. So to the communities that are suffering, hear this: we are marshaling our resources with you and we will be relentless in our pursuit of violent criminals that are victimizing your neighborhood. These taskforces are the kid of efforts that are a part of our PSN crime plan.
And thanks to our law enforcement officers, this is not hopeless. We can see crime in America trend down once again.
I want to personally express my deep appreciation and profound thanks to all the women and men of law enforcement—state and local—and their families, for sacrificing so much and putting your lives on the line every day so that the rest of us may enjoy the safety and security you provide. We love you and honor your work.
Know this: we have your back and you have our thanks.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.