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A Week to Honor Our Public Safety Heroes
May 17, 2013 Posted by

During National Police Week, the Justice Department participated in events across the country to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve.

On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the 25th Annual National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Candlelight Vigil in Washington, D.C.  He said that last year witnessed the fewest line-of-duty deaths since the 1950s, but that a single act of violence against a law enforcement officer is one too many.  Attorney General Holder further noted:

“Especially this evening – as we gather in this place of honor, on this hallowed ground, to mark the 25th Annual Candlelight Vigil – I want to assure you that the courage, the fidelity and the heroic final actions of our fallen officers will never be forgotten.  Every day – in cities, rural areas and tribal communities across the country – these individuals stood on the front lines of our nation’s fight against crime and violence.  Each faced uncertain dangers, and a diverse array of threats, every time they put on their badge and uniform.”

On Wednesday, Attorney General Holder and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary announced several improvements to modernize and streamline the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program.  Attorney General Holder stated:

“These fundamental improvements to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program will help us cut through red tape – and ensure that fallen or injured officers and their families can get the benefits they need in a timely manner.  These improvements are representative of the value that I, the women and men of the Justice Department, and our entire country, must always place on the work of our law enforcement officers. And, it’s emblematic of our commitment to standing with all who bravely serve our nation, especially in the toughest of times.”

U.S. Attorneys across the country also commemorated Police Week in their districts.  U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz recently recognized 152 officials from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for exceptional service at the U.S. Attorney’s annual Law Enforcement Public Service Awards Ceremony.  The event followed just weeks after the death of MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was shot and killed on April 18th just days after the Boston Marathon bombings.

During the event, U.S. Attorney Ortiz praised law enforcement personnel and their accomplishments and recognized the demands placed upon them, saying:

“This work can be difficult, and at times, it may seem thankless.  Please know that your efforts do not go unnoticed. What you have sacrificed – your personal safety, your precious time with your families – it is truly appreciated by our office, your agencies and the communities for which you have dedicated your esteemed service.”

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York William J. Hochul Jr. spoke at the Police Memorial Service at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo honoring 94 federal, state and local officers killed in the line of duty and at a monument dedication ceremony in Clarence, N.Y. in memory of New York State Trooper Kevin Dobson who was killed in the line of duty in 2011.   

Other U.S. Attorneys and their staff attended memorial services, parades, wreath laying and other special events commemorating Police Week in Los Angeles, Jackson, Miss., Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio, Providence, R.I., Knoxville, Tenn., Dallas, Charleston, W.V., among others across the country.

Also during Police Week, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office held an open house in the Capitol Visitors Center for visiting law enforcement officers who wanted to learn more about the agency’s 2013 programs and resources.  COPS staff was on hand to discuss federal funding opportunities, including the COPS Hiring Program, a competitive grant program focused on school safety, veteran hiring and homicide and gun violence reduction.  Grant opportunities for the development of community policing strategies and funding for public safety enhancements in tribal jurisdictions were also highlighted.  

Events continue this weekend and throughout the month, to honor those who serve and protect every community across the country. For more information, including a detailed schedule of events for National Police Week 2013, visit www.policeweek.org.

Working Together to Help Children Exposed to Drugs and Violence
October 24, 2012 Posted by

It is estimated that over 9 million children live in homes where a parent or other adult use illegal drugs. Children growing up in such a challenging environment are 3 times more likely to be verbally, physically, or sexually abused and 4 times more likely to be neglected.

This week, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Community Oriented Policing Services Office Director Bernard Melekian, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas Barry Grissom, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Nicholas Klinefeldt, and  interim U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa Sean Berry attended the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children Conference in Des Moines, Iowa to support the efforts to find and help children growing up in dangerous drug environments. 

Deputy Attorney General James Cole spoke with urgency about the importance and responsibility we have to ensure the justice, health and safety of these vulnerable young members of our communities:

This work is difficult and gut-wrenching. We cannot simply arrest and prosecute our way out of the growing epidemic of drug abuse, trafficking, and addiction by parents and childcare providers.   Saving these children requires a multi-disciplinary approach involving coordinated teams comprised of law enforcement, child protective services, healthcare professionals, educators, victim service specialists, child advocates, courts, and the community.   It requires all of us.

As Chairman of the Federal Interagency Task Force on Drug Endangered Children,  Deputy Attorney General Cole has led the efforts to raise awareness; increase coordination at the federal, state, tribal and local levels; and provide assistance to the field. 

The DEC Task Force recently developed a combined resource CD for law enforcement and child welfare agencies; new training courses at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; and developed a drug endangered children resource website.

The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC) is one of the DEC Task Force’s best allies. This year they received a $1.2 million in grants from the department. With this funding, they’ve transformed from an informal association of state leaders to a national voice for training, technical assistance, and advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children.

COPS Director Melekian:

The better the availability of training opportunities focused on identifying and helping drug endangered children, the better chance we have of making this a central part of law enforcement’s mission to serve and protect.  And it needs to be clear that there is an alternative to the violence and fear that is part of the daily lives of these children…With the right tools and information, we can reduce the incidences of children’s exposure to violence and intervene more effectively.

In addition to the national organization, state-level DEC groups are finding innovative solutions to share with their state and federal partners.

For example, the COPS Office awarded the Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children funding to expand their Drug Endangered Children Tracking System (DECSYS).  DECSYS is an easy-to-use, web-based system that allows law enforcement and child protection agencies an automated process for identifying children at risk.

This can expedite the identification of children in danger and bring them the assistance they need.  In the last two years, DECSYS has been credited with a 150 percent increase in the number of drug endangered children identified for child protective services.  It will soon launch in Nevada and Wisconsin.

U.S. Attorney Grissom spoke about coordination and collaboration:

Our coordination and collaboration with the Southern District of Iowa and the National DEC Alliance serves as an example of the power of partnerships;  this training will encourage partnerships, and provide tools for law enforcement, victim service providers, medical personnel,  welfare workers, educators  and other professionals to protect our most valuable resource, our children.    

While investigation and  prosecution will be discussed at this conference, the conference will focus on the importance of partnerships to assure the safety of children, enforce state and federal laws, and identify alternatives to incarceration that are designed to maintain,  or reunite families.

By bringing together federal, state and local resources with advocates, experts and community leaders, we can raise awareness of the plight of drug endangered children nationwide. We can increase coordination and intervene early to stop the cycle of violence and ensure these vulnerable citizens have the bright future full of promise they deserve.

To learn more about Drug Endangered Children, visit justice.gov/dec.

$111 Million in COPS Grants Support Military Veterans
June 26, 2012 Posted by

In response to the President’s call to provide new opportunities to our returning military veterans, Attorney General Eric Holder and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Director Bernard K. Melekian were in Philadelphia yesterday to announce grant awards totaling over $111 million dollars to 220 cities and counties to save or create jobs for approximately 800 law enforcement officers as part of the COPS Hiring Program.   Importantly, this year, each of these new hires will be military veterans who have served at least 180 days in our armed forces since September 11, 2001.

Speaking at the event, Attorney General Eric Holder said:

These awards are coming at a critical time.   Last year, thousands of officers were laid off – and, due to budget shortfalls, thousands of positions could not be filled.   In total, 85 percent of all law enforcement agencies reported cuts.   However, despite these difficult circumstances, hard-working public servants – like those here in Philadelphia – have found ways to accomplish more with less; to stretch every precious taxpayer dollar; to make meaningful, measurable progress in improving public safety; and to prove the power of community policing methods.   With this year’s COPS grant, this work will be expanded and strengthened.    And, as a result, a range of priority efforts – especially those aimed at protecting our children and young people from violence and other threats – will be taken to a new level.

This year’s incorporation of military veteran is an especially exciting – and promising – step forward.   Communities nationwide will benefit from the experience and expertise that these veterans will bring to their new roles in law enforcement.   And those who courageously serve our country overseas will know that their fellow citizens – and leaders across this Administration – are committed to taking care of them when they return home.

The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.  The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.

Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates.  An additional factor in the selection process was the agencies strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence. 

COPS Director Melekian:

 Our mission is to promote public safety through community policing, and that involves applying the resources available to areas with both legitimate need and doable solutions. We also remain focused on helping agencies maintain their level of service by protecting law enforcement positions recently lost or threatened to be cut.

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has awarded over $17 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 120,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance.

For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov. The Attorney General’s full remarks from the event can be found on the Department of Justice’s website

Honoring Those Who Serve and Protect
May 18, 2012 Posted by

This week the Justice Department commemorated National Police Week by hosting and attending events across the country to honor those who have sacrificed for the protection of us all.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day. That day falls during Police Week. Each year, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, D.C., to participate in events that honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the Bureau of Prisons Correctional Workers Memorial Service. He expressed gratitude and thanks that no new names had been added to the memorial this year, and highlighted the heroic actions of Gregory J. Gunter, a former off-duty maintenance mechanic general foreman at the Federal Correctional Institute in Petersburg, Va.

On Christmas Day in 1982, Gunter responded to a radio call for help during a riot where he was tragically fatally wounded. As Attorney General Holder noted:

“Foreman Gunter’s extraordinary actions delayed the large group of inmates from reaching those they were pursuing, and provided time for additional staff to arrive and end the riot.  There is no doubt that his sacrifice saved lives, prevented injuries – both among inmates and staff – and allowed order to be restored.”

Attorney General Holder also spoke at the 14th Annual Candlelight Vigil sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.  He shared the stories of bravery from members of the “thin blue line.” He remarked that the time has come to put past our differences in an effort to protect those who protect us, and said:

  “Block by block, city by city, department by department – we can combat and hold totally accountable with the harshest penalties, the criminal element that menaces our communities and targets the law enforcement family.”

 Other department officials also participated in Police Week 2012. Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West attended the 18th Annual Blue Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. The mass honors law enforcement and fire safety officers for their service.

 Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Director Bernard Melekian hosted an open house on Capitol Hill, meeting with congressional members and their staff to discuss upcoming law enforcement grant programs and public safety trends.

 Director Melekian also delivered remarks during the National Association of Police Organizations Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. He discussed the work of the department’s Officer Safety and Wellness Group, a collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and practitioners. The group works to develop initiatives designed to reduce the number of officer fatalities.

 At the meeting, he spoke about the department’s commitment to keeping officers safe:

 “We have to continue applying resources and expertise to help find a resolution to the issue of officer fatalities. This partnership has been long overdue, but we’re fortunate to see a broader effort being made, with new components developing strategies aimed at decreasing officer deaths due to gunfire, traffic accidents and suicides.”

 U.S. Attorneys across the country also celebrated Police Week in their districts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware held several events honoring officers including a law enforcement suicide prevention seminar aimed at increasing suicide awareness, improving access to resources and identifying best practices. The training was held in conjunction with the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Delaware Air National Guard, 166th Airlift Wing.

 U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Timothy J. Heaphy, will speak at an officer’s memorial service in Tazewell, Va., this week.

 Events continue this weekend and throughout the month, to honor those who serve and protect every community across the country. For more information, including a detailed schedule of events for National Police Week 2012, visit www.policeweek.org.

Interdepartmental Tribal, Justice, Safety, and Wellness Session Held in New Mexico
December 14, 2011 Posted by

Over 300 tribal leaders, health and law enforcement professionals from across the country are meeting in Santa Ana Pueblo to begin the latest in a series of sessions to improve collaboration with tribal governments and policy leaders.   This national gathering, held in partnership with several other federal agencies, is an opportunity to converse face-to-face on a range of important topics and to attend workshops on some pressing issues.

Our list is long but some of the topics that we’ll be discussing include:

  • the implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act, 
  • the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act; 
  • Tribal Youth Programs; suicide prevention; 
  • alcohol and substance abuse action planning; and 
  • sex offender registration and notification. 

Marylou Leary, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs, describes the scope and purpose of the Session like this:

“The Tribal, Justice, Safety, and Wellness Session is an embodiment of the Justice Department’s continuing commitment to build and sustain safe and healthy communities in Indian country. We can only accomplish this goal through active engagement and collaboration with communities, many of whom are undertaking ground-breaking programs to address their most pressing issues in ways that also strengthen capacity and self-determination.”

The conference will also include consultations with tribal leaders on the Justice Department’s streamlined grant-making effort (Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation – CTAS), the Tribal Law and Order Act Long Term Plan to Build and Enhance Tribal Justice Systems (Tribal Justice Plan), and the Annual Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Native Women.  
 
Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, describes the importance of the sessions in this way:

“The Office on Violence Against Women looks forward to strengthening our efforts to improve the responses to violence against women in tribal communities by actively participating in the ongoing dialogue with tribal leaders, consultation participants, task force members and CTAS grantees.  We need to hear the unique perspectives of all our partners as we improve our funding, research, and programmatic activities.  The safety of American Indian women is my priority and a priority of this Administration.” ‬

Bernard Melekian, the COPS Office Director, stated:

“The COPS Office is proud to be a part of this comprehensive approach to developing the training and resources necessary for enhanced public safety in tribal communities.  This federal partnership was created because of the guidance tribal leaders have provided the department.  Nothing can replace hearing directly from tribal leaders about how we can better serve their communities.  Together, we are offering maximum flexibility in our grant programs and services to tribal law enforcement, delivered in a much more efficient and effective manner.”

This week’s Interdepartmental Tribal, Justice, Safety, and Wellness representatives include the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Native American Issues Subcommittee in the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, Office of Tribal Justice, and Office on Violence Against Women; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Office of Minority Health in the Office of the Secretary; Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through its Office of Native American Programs; the Small Business Administration; and the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

Find more information on Department-wide initiatives in Indian country at www.justice.gov/tribal.  

Improving Public Safety & Creating Jobs
October 5, 2011 Posted by

 

Attorney General Holder announces COPS grants in Ohio.

Attorney General Holder announces COPS grants in Ohio.

 

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Today, along with COPS Director Barney Melekian, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss the Justice Department’s most recent efforts to support our nation’s law enforcement community – and to ensure that police officers from coast to coast have the resources that they need and deserve.

In recent years, police departments like Cincinnati’s – and law enforcement agencies nationwide – have faced extraordinary budget difficulties and have been asked to do more with less.  All across the country, law enforcement officials have risen to the challenge – and found innovative, collaborative ways to improve public safety and to keep crime trends heading in the right direction.  But at a time when approximately 10,000 officer jobs have been cut, and three times as many positions are currently unfilled due to fiscal constraints, we have a looming national crisis on our hands, both in terms of public safety and public employment.  In short, our citizens need protection – and our police officers and other first responders need jobs.

As part of the Department’s ongoing effort to meet these needs, I’m proud to report that the COPS Office is providing more than $240 million in new grants to support the hiring and retention of more than 1,000 officers in nearly 240 agencies and municipalities across the country.  The Cincinnati Police Department alone was awarded more than $6.8 million in grant money from the COPS Hiring Program, which will fund 25 critical positions for three years. 

Such targeted investments are essential to advancing the Department’s mission to be smart, as well as tough, on crime.  These same priorities are reflected in President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act, which – in addition to creating new employment opportunities and bolstering economic growth – aims to put more officers on the beat and strengthen public safety efforts nationwide. 

Although we all can be proud of – and inspired by – the courage and commitment that our nation’s law enforcement officers exhibit every day, we must find ways to take this work to the next level.  The COPS Hiring Program – and this Administration’s determination to create and restore law enforcement jobs across the country – will allow us to do just that.

To learn more about the COPS Hiring Program and the Department’s ongoing work to support our law enforcement partners at every level, read the press release or visit http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/

 
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