September | October 2016

Justice Department Announces New Violence Reduction Network Cities

On September 26, 2016, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced at the Fourth Annual Violence Reduction Network (VRN) Summit that two new sites—Jackson, MS, and Nashville, TN—have been added to the Violence Reduction Network. VRN is a comprehensive program created by the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Bureau of Justice Assistance to leverage existing DOJ resources in delivering strategic, intensive training and technical assistance in an "all-hands" approach to reducing violence in some of the country’s most violent cities.

left quoteWhen law enforcement and communities present a united front against violence, we can make progress.right quote

— Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch

The network has grown from 5 inaugural sites (Camden, NJ; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Oakland/Richmond, CA; and Wilmington, DE) to 15 sites with the addition of the two new cities as well as Compton, CA; Flint, MI; Newark, NJ; Little Rock, AR; and West Memphis, AR, in 2015; and Milwaukee, WI; New Orleans, LA; and St. Louis, MO, earlier in 2016.

OJJDP staff serve as program champions for Newark and Camden, and help these sites navigate the programs and training and technical assistance available through DOJ’s programmatic offices.

“Violent crime tears at the fabric of our common life, so any increase in violent crime is of the deepest concern to me as Attorney General and to the entire Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Lynch. “That is why we put so much time, effort, and funding into helping our state and local partners build their capacity to prevent, respond to, and, ultimately, reduce violent crime.” 

According to Attorney General Lynch, several VRN communities have made significant strides:

  • New Jersey’s Camden County Police Department reduced its ballistic evidence processing time from 4 to 7 days to within 6 to 8 hours following critical equipment and training from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

  • Oakland, CA, increased its homicide clearance rate from 57 percent to 74 percent in 1 year by creating space for onsite FBI agents.

  • Little Rock, AR, cleared a backlog of more than 1,300 firearms cases with the assistance of the ATF. 

Attorney General Lynch upheld cooperation as the hallmark of VRN, noting that the “work we have done together reminds us that we are not helpless—or hopeless—in the face of violence.” To further enhance the network’s violence prevention efforts, the Attorney General announced more than $54 million in grants to law enforcement agencies, research institutions, states, cities, tribes, and local government organizations to support body-worn camera programs and to expand sexual assault kit testing.

Ms. Lynch also announced the launch of the Violence Reduction Clearinghouse, DOJ’s mechanism to extend the reach of VRN and DOJ violence reduction resources to other communities that are facing similar issues. The clearinghouse enables users to add resources to a customized violence reduction toolkit, which can be saved for future access, downloaded, and easily shared with others.

Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason of the Office of Justice Programs announced an additional $13.6 million to help develop innovative, data-driven approaches to crime; reduce and more effectively prosecute gun crimes; and increase public safety through community-based partnerships. Acknowledging that federal funding was only part of the solution, Ms. Mason said, “Success in reducing violence ultimately depends on our ability to work together, to marshal existing resources, and to engage all stakeholders in the work of protecting communities.”

Representatives of DOJ and its federal law enforcement agencies attended the 2-day summit alongside U.S. Attorneys, police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, and local leaders from the VRN sites.

Resources:

Learn more about the Violence Reduction Network.

For more information about OJJDP’s youth violence prevention and anti-gang initiatives, visit the Office’s website.

To read a press release about the announcement of the two new VRN sites, visit DOJ’s website.