Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen Delivers Remarks at the SBA Major Cities Conference

Good morning. It’s an honor to have received an invitation
to address your Major Cities Conference, and I want to thank Ed Mullins and the Sergeants’
Benevolent Association and the San Jose Police Officers Association as well. I am sorry that I am unable to be there in
person, but I want you to know that the Justice Department and I are in your corner. The way I see it, everyone in law enforcement
is on the same team. I am proud to serve alongside Attorney General
Barr in an administration that so strongly supports law enforcement’s efforts to fight
crime. When President Trump took office, our country
was faced with increasing violent crime rates. From 2014 to 2016, nationwide violent crime
went up by seven percent, and murders went up by a shocking 21 percent. So one of the President’s first executive
orders to the Department of Justice instructed us to take steps to reduce crime and give
you the support and tools you need to protect our communities. And we have done that. This Administration appreciates that the way
to fight crime is not to micro-manage police departments, but instead is to focus on the
criminals. That is why late last year the Department
issued new principles and procedures with regard to consent decrees with State and Local
Governmental Entities. I am happy to report that these new guidelines
respect you and the unique roles of our state and local governments under the Constitution. In 2017, to start to reverse the previous
trend line of the crime rate, the Justice Department reinvigorated the Project Safe
Neighborhoods program. PSN is built on the idea that those in Washington
don’t have all the answers. Instead, each United States Attorney developed
a customized strategy by working with state, local and tribal law enforcement to target
and prioritize prosecutions of the most dangerous individuals in the most dangerous areas. PSN works because of its emphasis on partnerships
with law enforcement professionals like you. Part of our nation’s crime problems stem
from illegal drugs. Having failed to deal adequately with this
in the past, we are now confronted with a death toll from opioids alone that is higher
than we would sustain in a major war. I am pleased that you will be hearing from
a member of my staff, Amanda Liskamm, who will be speaking with you about the Justice
Department’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. We declared this crisis a national emergency
and we are using every tool available to fight back. One key aspect of the Justice Department’s
response to the opioid crisis is Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, which is built on
the principle that crime can be reduced by fully enforcing the law. That has already yielded significant results. In just over a year, we have initiated investigations
that have led to well over 100 indicted defendants and destroyed many of the complex narcotic
distribution pipelines that were pumping poison into our communities. Nationwide, however, our efforts to fight
crime are being disrupted by certain state and local governments that refuse to cooperate
with federal law enforcement, particularly so-called “Sanctuary cities” for violators. We need to put public safety first, including
the safety of our law enforcement personnel. And that is why we are concerned with a new
kind of problem: the emergence in some cities of District Attorneys that style themselves
as “social justice” reformers, who undercut the police and refuse to enforce the law. The Attorney General and I are concerned that
those cities are headed back to the days of revolving door justice by implementing policies
that don’t work, only to end up with more crime and more victims. We can’t let that happen. We must not forget about the victims of crimes. Now, while we face many challenges, I want
you to know how much we respect and appreciate the work you do to keep us safe. As law enforcement professionals, your days
are already long and hard. Your nights are already tough and often sleepless. We can never fully repay you and your families
for your sacrifices. But the Department of Justice wants to help
ensure that police officers return home safely at the end of every shift. That’s why we’re proud to sponsor programs
like the VALOR initiative, which provides no-cost training to help law enforcement professionals
stay physically and mentally prepared for whatever comes your way. Since 2016 alone, the Department has provided
nearly 13 million dollars in funding to train over 50,000 officers across the nation to
improve your safety and wellness. Last year we also achieved significant improvements
to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program. Our law enforcement professionals deserve
these benefits, so we removed barriers to their receiving them. Likewise, we expedited pending claims from
the first responders who bravely sacrificed their own wellbeing to save the lives of others
during 9/11. So here is the good news: Last week, the FBI
released its 2018 crime statistics and for the second consecutive year, the number of
violent crimes nationwide decreased when compared with the prior year. In 2018, the violent crime rate decreased
3.9 percent from 2017, and the rate for nearly every violent crime offense decreased as well! I am proud of the progress that we have made
to fight crime together, especially to reverse the increasing national crime rates from 2015
and 2016. The fact is that strong partnerships of federal,
state, and local law enforcement can produce better results for the public we all serve. So, on behalf of the Department of Justice,
let me say again how much this Administration respects and appreciates the brave men and
women in blue. Thanks so much to all of you.

Maurice Vega

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