Attorney General Jeff Sessions is promising that his Justice Department will lead the charge in helping cities fight violent crime, and police chiefs are ready with their wish-lists, the Associated Press reports. They include more technology to trace guns after shootings, more grant money, more intelligence analysts to help dismantle gangs, more protective gear and equipment. As the head of one police officers’ union put it, “We need more of everything.” Sessions has inherited a federal government that retooled itself to fight terrorism since 9/11 and, more recently, to combat cybercrime. Sessions has spoken repeatedly about a spike in murders. He and President Trump ordered the creation of a crime-fighting task force, bringing together the heads of the major law enforcement agencies. They have yet to offer new money for crime-fighting, especially in the face of Trump’s plan to slash nonmilitary budgets. “He’ll find out very quickly that you can’t pull people off all these other things just to go do that,” said Robert Anderson, the FBI’s most senior criminal investigator until his retirement in 2015.
In Milwaukee, Police Chief Edward Flynn said he would like an expansion of the work done in that city by the Justice Department’s Violence Reduction Network. In Baltimore, which recorded 318 homicides last year, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has said he would like federal agencies to double the number of agents assigned to cities experiencing spikes in violence. In contrast, the Obama administration’s Justice Department focused its aid to local police on improving community relations. “At the end of the day, crime is a state and local concern,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “However, what police chiefs say is the federal government does have a responsibility, particularly when they prosecute.”