Newly-minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed that under his helm, the Department of Justice will start cracking down on violent crime throughout the country. Sessions, a former prosecutor, has also advocated for longer mandatory minimum prison sentences.
This focus on local violent crime marks a shift away from the focus on homegrown extremists and cyberattacks of the Obama administration. Under the previous administration, the DOJ also focused on giving local police departments resources for building relationships with the people in their communities.
However, the shift that Sessions has championed will require resources that state and local law enforcement agencies say that they don't have. Considering the budget cuts proposed by President Trump, it's not certain where the money for those resources will come from.
Among the things that police chiefs across the U.S. have said they need to ramp up the fight against violent crime in their cities are:
-- More protective gear-- More intelligence professionals to break up gangs-- More technology to help with tracing guns used in shootings
The head of one police officers' union put it simply: "We need more of everything."
Local law enforcement agencies are also asking for help from federal law enforcement as violent crime in some areas has increased after years of decline. This requires additional resources from agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, particularly for intelligence gathering.
This shifting of resources will likely mean that the chances of being arrested, prosecuted and getting a long prison sentence could increase for those who commit crimes. Both local and federal law enforcement officials are expected to be out in force this summer, when crime often spikes. It will be more important than ever that those arrested for felonies get experienced legal guidance to help ensure that their rights are protected.
Source: ABC News, "Tight budgets could complicate Sessions' vow to fight crime," Sadie Gurman, AP, March 14, 2017