Published 1:05 p.m. CT March 6, 2018 | Updated 2:27 p.m. CT March 6, 2018
D. Michael Dunavant, Guest columnist
As a prosecutor, my ink pen is my primary weapon. I have a very nice Montblanc ink pen, which was a generous gift from a dear friend.
I use that pen to sign the indictments by which the federal criminal justice process begins, in order to ultimately hold criminal offenders accountable by sending them to federal prison.
Reducing violent crime, including offenses committed by the illegal possession and use of firearms, is the top priority of my office and the Department of Justice.
As directed by Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, we charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable violent and firearms offenses, and seek the most substantial punishment under the sentencing guidelines, including the use of mandatory minimum sentences for armed career criminals and felons in possession of firearms.
We have recommitted our efforts to initiatives that have worked in the past to reduce violent crime, such as the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program, which aggressively targets all firearms offenses with the most swift, certain, and appropriate penalties.
Only by a return to those policies and practices that have proven to work can we accomplish the goals of criminal prosecution to ensure public safety: incapacitation of dangerous offenders, specific and general deterrence of future crimes, retributive justice for victims and the community, and respect for the rule of law.
Bank and business robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault, and gang and domestic violence are all federal crimes committed with firearms that violate the fundamental civil rights of all citizens to be safe in their homes, businesses, and communities.
The violent crime rate in Memphis, Jackson, and across the Western District of Tennessee is unacceptably and disproportionately high - especially in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.
The news from the DOJ is that we are open for business, and we will not cede our safety and security in one city, in one neighborhood, or on one street corner to violent crime.
My message is clear: If you are a violent criminal with a firearm, you will be held accountable and removed from our streets. When you pick up your weapon, rest assured that I will pick up mine, and I will use it aggressively, frequently, and unapologetically.
At the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are urgent in our mission to reduce violent crime. We are comprehensive in the scope of our investigations and prosecutions. And we are relentless in our resolve to make West Tennessee safe again.
D. Michael Dunavant is the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.