Federal government providing nearly $80 million to combat violent crime in U.S.

Despite signs that crime is down in some cities across America, the federal government has allocated $80 million to fight violent crime.
NNPA photo submitted

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior
National Correspondent

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a multifaceted strategy to bolster law enforcement and community-based initiatives to combat violent crime in America. 

Speaking at a conference for federal grantees in Chicago, Garland highlighted the need to double down on recent progress and stem the tide of violence gripping many American cities.

Garland noted the recent significant drop in homicides, hailing it as the largest one-year drop in half a century. He pointed to Chicago’s 13 percent decrease in violent crime as a tangible example of the positive impact of targeted interventions.

The Attorney General credited much of the progress to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which empowered federal prosecutors to crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchasing while allocating $250 million in grants for community-based violence prevention initiatives.

Of the funding, Garland announced the immediate availability of $78 million to be distributed to organizations actively engaged in reducing violent crime and fostering community trust. He emphasized that these funds would directly support grassroots efforts to address the root causes of violence and promote safer neighborhoods nationwide.

In November, the DOJ announced nearly $217 million in funding to hire 1,730 entry-level officers at 394 agencies in 48 states through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services hiring program.

Meanwhile, officials said violent crime decreased across some of the nation’s biggest cities last year. According to federal numbers, Philadelphia, and Baltimore each saw 20 percent reductions in homicides between 2022 and 2023. In his recent State of the Union address, President Joe Biden highlighted that the nation reported historically low murder rates in 2023, with violent crime dropping to one of the lowest levels in 50 years.

According to a Forbes magazine study, South Carolina ranks eighth among the most dangerous states in America, with a crime rate of 4.91 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. However, an annual report by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division found that overall violent crime dropped by 2.6 percent from 2021 to 2022, including a 12 percent decrease in homicides.

Crime in New York City’s transit system has increased by roughly 7 percent in 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. The rise includes a series of recent violent attacks and shootings, leading New York Governor Kathy Hochul to deploy the National Guard to the subway system this month.

For Black Americans nationwide, particularly young men, the risk of becoming victims of violent crime remains disproportionately high. While Blacks make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 60 percent of those killed by firearm homicides annually, according to an analysis published by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Hate crimes are also on the rise across the country, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. The report, titled “Faith Under Fire” and published in January, found that hate crimes increased by 11 percent in 2023 from 2022, with anti-semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes soaring following the Israel-Hamas war.

The FBI’s quarterly uniform crime report indicates a widespread decrease in violent crime during 2023 compared to the previous year, as well as a 13 percent decline in homicides relative to 2022. The Major Cities Police Association’s Violent Crime Survey found double-digit declines in homicides across nearly 70 of America’s largest cities in 2023 compared to 2022.

However, while cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia saw homicides decline by 12 percent to 21 percent, others experienced sharp increases in slayings in 2023. Homicides rose by 24 percent in Memphis, 27 percent in Washington, D.C., 15 percent in Dallas, and 14 percent in Kansas City.

According to NYPD crime statistics, violent crime in New York City is continuing to fall in 2024. Through March 17, data show homicides are down by 19 percent from the same period in 2023. Meanwhile, according to NYPD data, violent crime in New York City housing developments fell by 3.2 percent in 2023 from the previous year.

In addition to the investments, Garland unveiled plans to deploy federal resources and prosecutors to cities disproportionately affected by violent crime, including St. Louis, Missouri; Jackson, Miss.; and Hartford, Connecticut. He said the targeted deployments aim to support local law enforcement agencies and enhance collaboration in tackling crime hotspots.

The announcement follows similar interventions in cities like Houston, Memphis, and Washington, D.C., where a surge in violent crime, particularly carjackings and armed robberies, has sparked concern from Mayor Muriel Bowser, city leaders, and citizens. Garland reiterated that while progress has been made, there is no room for complacency, as he stressed the need for sustained focus and vigilance in the fight against violent crime.

“The Justice Department is committed to continuing to make historic investments in community violence intervention,” Garland declared. “Violent crime isolates people and their communities. It deepens the fractures in our public life. When it is not addressed, it can undermine people’s trust in government and in each other.”

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