- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced a new initiative to crack down on crime in several of the nation’s most violent cities.

The initiative dubbed, Operation Relentless Pursuit will boost federal law enforcement resources in those cities while expanding collaboration between federal agencies and state and local partners.

Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore; Cleveland; Detroit; Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee are the cities picked for the program.

In addition, the Justice Department will bolster the surge by investing $71 million in federal grants for local departments to hire new officers, pay overtime and benefits as well as upgrade equipment and technology.

The funds could pay for as many as 400 new officers to local departments across the country.

Each of the cities has struggled with crime even as the nationwide crime rate has dropped since 2016. Detroit has the highest violent crime and assault rate in the country, while Milwaukee’s crime rate is five times the national average.

“We are going to provide substantial resources to state and local law enforcement that will have a long-term and lasting effect,” Attorney General William P. Barr said at a press conference in Detroit to announce the initiative.

Mr. Barr was flanked by the heads of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals.

“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 these communities with resources, training and equipment they need to stay safe,” Mr. Barr said.

The attorney general said the cities were selected for a variety of factors, including crime rates. But local authorities’ ability to work with their federal partners also influenced the process, he said.

“It was very important to have local partners that were effective and working with our joint task forces,” he said.

The heads of the federal law enforcement agencies said the new resources will help them carry out their missions.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said the initiative will help it combat the threats that “arise from gangs and criminal enterprises that drive violence in the communities we are sworn to protect.”

Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon said the initiative will strengthen the agency’s ability to “work with our federal, state and local partners to pursue the worst offenders and make our communities safer.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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