Under the mantra “one team one fight,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr and several other federal agencies unveiled their initiative to crack down on violent crime across the United States, starting with seven of America’s most violent cities.
The initiative, known as Operation Relentless Pursuit, will intensify federal law enforcement resources into seven American cities with violent crime rates higher than the national average, Barr announced at a press conference on Wednesday. The attorney general was joined by leaders of the FBI, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Marshals Service.
The cities—Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee—will see an increase of federal law enforcement officers working in the area with additional agents for federal task forces.
The agencies are also committing up to $71 million in federal grant funding that can be used to hire new officers, pay overtime, and provide for new equipment and technology.
“Americans deserve to live in safety,” Barr said in a statement. “And while nationwide violent crime rates are down, many cities continue to see levels of extraordinary violence. Operation Relentless Pursuit seeks to ensure that no American city is excluded from the peace and security felt by the majority of Americans, while also supporting those who serve and protect in these communities with the resources, training, and equipment they need to stay safe.”
Data released by the FBI on Sept. 30 shows that overall the violent crime rate dropped by 3.9 percent. Most notably, the robbery rate slid by 12.6 percent in 2018. The murder rate also dropped to 5 per 100,000 residents, a decline of 6.8 percent from 2017.
Barr underscored during the press conference that the cities that were chosen to be part of the initiative were ones that are still a concern to the department and the community.
For example, Detroit has the highest violent crime and aggravated assault rate in the country while Memphis, which is the second most violent city in the country, had a violent crime rate five times the national average.
“In today’s world, the threats we face are too diverse, too dangerous and too all-encompassing for any of us to tackle alone. So all of us in law enforcement have to figure out ways to complement each other, to find synergies, to match strengths with strengths,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during the press conference.
This comes weeks after President Donald Trump announced an executive order to establish a new commission on law enforcement and administration of justice. The commission will develop recommendations on how to deal with problems “that influence crime and strain criminal justice resources,” such as homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness, the order states.
The Department of Justice has been committed to reducing violent crimes throughout the year, and Barr last month announced a five-point plan to reduce gun violence.
Barr said the project will utilize federal resources to crack down on crimes involving guns, while working with local and regional law enforcement to reduce violent crime.
Petr Svab and Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.