Concern over violent crime surges in some U.S. cities has prompted the Justice Department to call a meeting next month of more than a dozen local law enforcement officials to deal with public safety threats, ranging from criminal gangs to domestic violence, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates tells USA Today. The summit builds on increasing federal re-engagement with local police forces that have been hit with questions over lethal force policies and flagging public trust. Although violent crime has been dropping in much of the U.S., federal authorities are re-committing resources, some of which were directed to address anti-terror concerns after 9/11, to battle troubling spikes in local crime. Yates named five cities—Compton, Ca., Little Rock, Ar., West Memphis, Ar., Newark, N.J., and Flint, Mi.— that will get an infusion of federal help to battle violence even as most of the country has enjoyed relative calm.
“Every community is different and every community has their own unique challenges,” Yates said. “For us to be most effective, we really need to be digging in at the local level… to fashion our response. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of solution.” The five cities are the first expansion of the so-called Violence Reduction Network, launched last year by the Justice Department to address similar violent crime problems in Chicago, Detroit, Wilmington, De., Camden, N.J., and in the Oakland-Richmond, Ca., area. While no federal money is attached to inclusion in the network, Yates said the designation provides cities unique access to existing federal expertise in gang investigations, drug trafficking inquiries, the pursuit of violent fugitives, intelligence gathering and other strategies that may be lacking at local public safety agencies.