Thank you John [Walsh]. It is an honor to be here today in support of the success of this Metro Denver summer anti-violence enforcement initiative. As John mentioned, during this past spring Metro Denver had an increase in the number of violent firearm related shootings and homicides. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the ATF, in partnership with the Aurora, Denver and Lakewood Police Departments, and the local District Attorneys, stepped up, focusing on locations where violent gun crime was most likely to occur. They combined their resources, created a task force, and initiated investigations into gang violence.
To see the results of this law enforcement initiative – arresting 80 defendants with firearms, most of whom have gang affiliations – is impressive. Agents and officers also seized over 100 firearms of all types, including machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, handguns, silencers, and destructive devices. It is clear that this partnership has made the streets of Metro Denver safer.
This initiative is consistent with the Department of Justice anti-violence strategy. In 2010 Attorney General Eric Holder tasked U.S. Attorney’s Offices to be proactive, identifying violent crime hot spots, and develop law enforcement strategies to address the violent crime. That is exactly what was done here.
Prosecutors working as neighborhood problem solvers were responsible for recognizing that there was going to be a problem, in this case a summer of violence. Their response was to remove violent offenders with firearms from the streets. This was only possible by forming partnerships between federal prosecutors, the ATF and local law enforcement. These types of partnerships, involving multiple jurisdictions, prevent gang members from using city boundaries to get away with the violent crime.
While it is important to fight violent crime through the prosecution of those offenders we arrest, it is not enough. We must also be proactive in seeking to identify and address the issues which drive the problem of violence in our communities, and do what we can to keep these crimes from happening in the first place. Both are essential tools in our battle against violent crime. Yesterday I saw what steps Denver and Aurora are taking to reduce gang affiliation and the dangers to our communities caused by gangs. The proactive approach these two cities are taking is a critical component in our battle against violent crime.
Colorado must be recognized for the approach taken here. Its law enforcement community is taking dangerous offenders off the streets, and it is working to prevent gang involvement from starting in the first place. Because of this, the Metro Denver area is a safer place. I applaud those I stand with today. And I thank them for their hard work in protecting their community from violent gun crime.