The Justice Department says it’s aiding 12 U.S. cities to decrease violent crime under a new program, the Associated Press reports. DOJ said today it will help local authorities study crime patterns and develop plans to reduce violence. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says officials will find “data-driven, evidence-based strategies” that can be measured over time. The cities are: Birmingham, Al., Indianapolis, Memphis, Toledo, Oh., Baton Rouge, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston, Jackson, Tn., Kansas City, Mo., Lansing, Mi., and Springfield, Il. The department says it chose cities that have higher-than-average rates of violence and showed receptiveness to receiving assistance.
The announcement came at a “summit” of federal and state law enforcement officials in Bethesda, Maryland. Sessions says helping cities combat violence is a top priority for the Justice Department. At the event, Sessions said he new program will be called the National Public Safety Partnership, or PSP. He said that “Based on local needs, the PSP program will provide two complementary but separate tiers of help — Diagnostics Teams and Operations Teams. Diagnostic Teams will assess the local factors driving increased violent crime, and will help local leaders develop strategies to address those factors, over a period of up to 18 months. Operations Teams will provide rigorous training and coaching over a three-year period … Operations Teams will provide enhanced crime trend analysis and comprehensive gun-crime intelligence programs.” The twelve cities are being added to ten cities that who took part in a pilot concept known as the Violence Reduction Network. Sessions said DOJ planned to announce more PSP sites later this year. DOJ barred the news media from attending anything but Sessions’ opening remarks at the summit and denied requests from several advocacy organizations to attend. A DOJ spokesperson said that, “While the Department of Justice Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety has welcomed input from all groups over the past several months, the crime summit is focused on creating an opportunity to hear from state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, victims’ groups, and academics that have studied crime reduction efforts to learn what is working to reduce crime, as well as how the Department of Justice can best support those efforts.”