Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday said the Justice Department is getting involved to help battle spikes in violent crime in major cities.
The initiative comes as liberal strategists worry openly about possible political consequences for Democrats who control the White House, Congress and many key state and local governments.
Garland said that all US attorneys offices are being instructed to draw up plans with state and local officials to address a surge in crimes such as murders, shootings and carjackings.
“Today, we renew our commitment to reducing violent crime and building strong communities where all Americans are safe,” Garland said in a statement.
Garland announced a “comprehensive strategy to deploy our federal resources in the most effective way, disrupting the most dangerous threats and supporting the ground-level efforts of local law enforcement.”
The attorney general said the feds will reenforce local cops to help nab suspects and will provide grants to help shore up local forces, some of which have had their budgets slashed following “defund the police” activism after George Floyd’s death last year.
In a press release, the Justice Department outlined a broad vision for federal intervention to beef up local policing — though it’s not immediately clear how the ramp-up compares to the Trump administration’s Operation Legend, which similarly sought to tamp down rising crime last year.
The DOJ said “the strategy directs each US Attorney’s Office to work with its state, local, federal, Tribal, and community partners to establish an immediate plan to address spikes in violent crime that are typically seen during the summer.”
“The FBI will make available cutting-edge analytical resources to support state and local law enforcement efforts to identify the most violent offenders and most dangerous criminal organizations in communities. The FBI will then deploy agents to assist with enforcement operations targeting these entities,” the Justice Department said.
“Where feasible, the ATF will embed with local homicide units and expand the availability of its NIBIN Correlation Center, which matches ballistics from crime scenes to other ballistic evidence nationwide.”
The DEA “will focus its efforts, in coordination with state, local and Tribal law enforcement, to disrupt the activities of the most violent drug trafficking gangs and egregious drug-trafficking organizations operating in the highest-crime areas,” the release said.
The US Marshals Service, meanwhile, “will conduct fugitive sweeps throughout the country focused on individuals subject to state or local warrants for homicide, aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated robbery, robbery with a firearm, rape or aggravated sexual assault,” according to the Justice Department.
Garland said in his statement, “through our grantmaking, we will support programming at all stages – from the earliest violence interruption strategies to post-conviction reentry services.”
The dramatic increase in certain types of violent crimes follows nationwide anti-police brutality protest and riots last year. Leaders of some city governments, including in New York, slashed local police budgets in response.
In addition to shootings and murders, certain other types of violent crime increased in the past year, including carjackings. Motor vehicle theft, for example, has increased 35 percent this year in DC, where notable cases include the fatal carjacking of an Uber driver by a pair of teen girls.
In a recent editorial in the New York Times, liberal pundit Ezra Klein wrote, ” If these numbers keep rising, they could end any chance we have of building a new approach to safety, and possibly carry Donald Trump — or someone like him — back to the presidency in 2024.”