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Barr, feds launch "Operation Relentless Pursuit" in Detroit

U.S. Department of Justice

The Trump Administration unveiled a new initiative aimed at tackling crime in some of the country’s most violent cities in Detroit on Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the heads of federal law enforcement agencies announced the initiative, called Operation Relentless Pursuit, alongside Detroit Police Chief James Craigand U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

Detroit will be one seven cities with crime rates well above the national average taking part in Relentless Pursuit. The others are Baltimore, Memphis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Albuquerque.

Barr says it will be a “two-pronged” approach that involves “surging” federal law enforcement resources into those cities, as well as providing “substantial resources” to state and local law enforcement.

“Essentially, what this involves is increasing the number of federal agents in these cities, around whom we can build additional state-federal task forces,” Barr said.

The operation will also provide at least $71 million for state and local law enforcement. That can be used to hire new officers, pay overtime, or pay for additional federal agents participating in task forces, Barr said, noting that money is “essentially available starting right now.”

“Fighting violent crime is one of the primary priorities of this [Trump] administration,” Barr said. “In a number of cities, it’s a stubborn problem. There’s been consistent progress in recent years here in Detroit, but you’re starting from a very high level of violent crime, and it’s still significantly higher than the national average.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray applauded what he called a “team approach” to fighting violent crime.

“Through this initiative, we’ll not only be keeping our existing commitment in those cities, but surging additional FBI resources to help further reduce violent crime,” said Wray. “We’ll do that by reassigning a number of special agents and other personnel to each of these cities, to help investigate and take the worst offenders off the streets and cripple their organizations.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig welcomed the collaboration. “Simply said, collaborations between local and federal law enforcement work,” said Craig. Detroit’s crime rate has declined somewhat in recent years, but according to Barr and the FBI it remains the nation’s most violent big city.

Barr also took the opportunity Wednesday to echo another Trump Administration theme, decrying what he sees as a lack of respect for law enforcement. “I feel there is too much anti-law enforcement rhetoric, and not sufficient respect for police officers and law enforcement officers and the job they do,” he said.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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