The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Monday funding for a new initiative aimed at reducing violent crime.
The DOJ says it is steering $1.6 billion towards addressing a “range of public safety challenges,” according to a department press release.
“The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our state and local partners to combat crime across the country,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “This latest round of funding will deliver critical public safety resources helping public safety professionals, victim service providers, local agencies, and nonprofit organizations confront these serious challenges.”
These grants are meant to help support the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, announced in May, and to advance President Joe Biden’s Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety, released in June.
The awards are coming from the Justice Department’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program and will be distributed to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and a list of U.S. territories.
The funding comes amid concerns about a recent wave of smash-and-grab crimes at retail stores in major cities across the country, and videos of the incidents emerging on social media platforms.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a press briefing Dec. 7 that the White House agrees with major retailers, as well as state and local officials, raising concerns about the smash-and-grab crimes.
“I think our actions and the work that we have had in working with the justice department, the FBI, and federal law enforcement show that we have seen some of these extremely disturbing videos showing retail thefts and both major retailers as well as state and local leaders like Gov. [Gavin] Newsom (Calif.) have identified this as a serious concern. We agree,” Psaki said.
The rate of violent crime nationally reached a ten-year high last year, according to data from the FBI. This included a year-over-year jump in homicides from 6,977 in 2019 to 9,630 in 2020.
“This money will help address the surge in gun violence we’ve seen over the past two years,” Psaki added, “and will bolster steps that the administration has already taken to crack down on violent crime.”