Detroit is one of America’s most important cities. Its contributions to our national economy and culture are invaluable. But the city would not be what it is without its people.
The citizens of Detroit have rightfully earned a reputation across the country as well as around the world for being hardworking and no nonsense. They make the city the vital hub of manufacturing, finance, tech, trade and health care that it is today.
However, Detroit also suffers from some of the worst violent crime in America. For that reason, I came here this week to announce Operation Relentless Pursuit, a Trump administration initiative designed to reduce violent crime in some of America’s toughest cities.
Joining me were the heads of the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service. We traveled here in order to together voice our support for the people of Detroit, who for far too long have endured an epidemic of violent crime. Operation Relentless Pursuit will combine the efforts of these federal partners and assist local law enforcement with its ongoing effort to restore order in Detroit.
The magnitude of this operation cannot be underestimated. For the first time in recent memory, the Department of Justice is simultaneously connecting all four major federal law-enforcement agencies to the places that most need attention. This initiative was designed to update and enhance the best crime-fighting techniques from the last thirty years — techniques that were largely abandoned by previous presidential administrations.
For decades, the violent-crime rate in America steadily fell. Then suddenly in 2015 and 2016, our country witnessed its steepest increase in murders since 1971 — a nearly 20% spike. In fact, all violent crime increased, a backslide that was exacerbated by a variety of new challenges to policing, including “reforms” that offered leniency to violent offenders, an explosion of anti-police rhetoric, and a surge in assaults on police officers. In 2016 alone, the number of officers shot and killed in the line of duty skyrocketed by 44 percent.
Michigan followed the national trend, suffering staggering escalations in violent crime including murder, aggravated assault, and rape. In 2015, there were over 7,100 reported rapes in the Great Lakes State, nearly surpassing the all-time peak from 25 years prior.
From his first day in office, ending this national crime wave was a top priority for President Trump. At his direction, the Department of Justice returned to the common-sense policies that had effectively cut crime in the past. We coordinated with our state and local partners to launch new initiatives modeled after our accomplishment, designed to swiftly take the most violent offenders off the streets.
These tried-and-true crime reduction strategies reversed the trend. The national violent-crime rate dropped in 2017, and then again in 2018. In many parts of the country, it looks like things are back on track. However, there are cities at risk of being left behind. Despite enjoying slight improvements over the last two years, Detroit still reports the highest violent-crime per capita among major cities in the U.S.
Operation Relentless Pursuit will surge an unparalleled amount of federal backing to Detroit and the other most dangerous cities in the United States. It will build on the Justice Department’s successful Project Safe Neighborhoods, which encouraged community-based solutions to violent crime. It will also complement Project Guardian and DEEP (Disruption and Early Engagement Program), agency initiatives focused on reducing gun crime and preventing mass shootings.
With Operation Relentless Pursuit, local law enforcement will have access to state-of-the-art technology and our nation’s top federal agents, who will be tasked with investigating and taking down the most violent offenders and their criminal organizations. We’re matching our rhetoric with resources by committing significant manpower and up to $71 million in additional funding for our federal, state, and local partners.
During the Trump administration, many Americans have already received relief from the threat of violent crime. Now, Operation Relentless Pursuit will strive to ensure that peace, safety, and rule of law are enjoyed as widely as possible. Detroit can and will defeat violent crime. The federal government stands ready to follow the lead of local law enforcement on the ground and equip them with the best assets in its arsenal.
William Barr is attorney general of the United States.