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Attorney General Meets with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
November 7th, 2011 Posted by
Attorney General Holder receives the highest Bulgarian law enforcement award from Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov of Bulgaria

Attorney General Holder receives the highest Bulgarian law enforcement award from Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov of Bulgaria

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder met with Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria. They discussed law enforcement cooperation between the two countries in areas including organized crime, asset forfeiture and cybercrime.

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov presented Attorney General Holder with the highest Bulgarian law enforcement award – the First Degree Valour and Merit Insignia of Honour. The award recognized the Attorney General for “his exceptional merit to the development and enhancement of the co-operation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the United States of America in the area of security and home affairs.”

Attorney General Holder Meets with Iraqi Chief Justice
November 3rd, 2011 Posted by
Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Yesterday afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder met with Iraq’s Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Chief Justice and Attorney General reaffirmed their commitment to a continuing and strong relationship between their countries under the Strategic Framework Agreement.  The Chief Justice and the Attorney General also spoke about the strength and independence of the Iraqi judiciary and also the continuing challenges it faces.  The two also discussed the lengthy and productive relationship between the Department of Justice and the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council to foster the rule of law in Iraq. 

Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Chief Justice Medhat is in Washington, D.C. as part of a senior judicial delegation sent by the Government of Iraq.

For more information about the Department of Justice and Iraq, visit justice.gov/iraq

Supporting the Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Who Keep Our Nation Safe
October 25th, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Keeping our nation safe from evolving terrorist threats requires strong partnerships at all levels.  Nowhere are those partnerships more important than with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers who work on the frontlines every day to keep our cities and communities safe.

These courageous men and women, who put their lives on the line to protect others, must have the tools, training, and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

This week at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) General Assembly in Chicago, we each had an opportunity to reiterate our support for police officers and first responders across our country, many of whom are struggling to hire or retain personnel in the face of tough economic challenges.

As part of ongoing work to better understand and overcome current fiscal challenges, this week, the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office released a new report on how the economic downturn has impacted police departments nationwide.

According to the department’s research, we expect that, by the end of this year, nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies will have been laid off.  Already, law enforcement agencies nationwide currently have nearly 30,000 unfilled vacancies.  And an estimated 28,000 more officers and deputies experienced week-long furloughs last year. In 25 years of collecting data, this is the first national decrease in law enforcement positions ever recorded.

There is great demand for existing federal fire fighter hiring funding.  In FY10 alone there were $1.8 billion in applications for $420 million in  SAFER funds.

Especially in these difficult economic times, the tough choices we are all facing should not come at the expense of public safety and national security.  And, fortunately, they don’t have to. The American Jobs Act would provide $5 billion in assistance to states and local communities to create and save thousands of police and first responder jobs across the country.  These funds would not only help to safeguard our national security and bolster public safety – they would strengthen our economy.

Passage of the American Jobs Act also would ensure that many of the critical partnerships we have established with local law enforcement can continue – and improve our ability to share information, to train frontline officers to recognize indicators of terrorism and crime, and to encouraging the public to be vigilant in reporting suspicious activity to appropriate authorities.

These steps provide a strong foundation for law enforcement at all levels to protect communities from terrorism and other threats. They also help us better understand the risks confronting the homeland while protecting the privacy rights and civil liberties of all Americans, and foster a strong relationship with the international community.

When it comes to advancing our public safety efforts, we simply can’t afford to wait. We must take action now to combat the economic conditions that have affected – and, in some communities, devastated – law enforcement agencies nationwide. We urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act so that we can protect the men and women on the frontlines who protect us and contribute to our nation’s safety and security every day.

Meeting our Public Safety Goals
October 24th, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies and police departments of all sizes are struggling to confront once-in-a-century financial constraints.  In the face of growing demands and increasingly limited resources, many law enforcement executives have been forced to make difficult – and often painful – budgetary decisions, while responding to a host of new and evolving threats.

I’m proud to say that our nation’s law enforcement community has responded to these challenges not with frustration, but with resolve.  Yet, in spite of their best efforts – and the strongest support this Administration can provide – there’s no denying that recent economic conditions have created significant obstacles to fulfilling critical public safety goals.

As part of ongoing work to better understand and overcome current fiscal challenges, this week, the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office released a new report on how the economic downturn has impacted police departments nationwide.  According to our research, we expect that, by the end of this year, nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies will have been laid off.  Already, law enforcement agencies nationwide currently have nearly 30,000 unfilled vacancies.  And an estimated 28,000 more officers and deputies experienced week-long furloughs last year.

In 25 years of collecting data, this is the first national decrease in law enforcement positions ever recorded. But – at every level of the Justice Department, and across the Obama Administration – we are committed to reversing this alarming and unacceptable trend.

That’s why – block by block, city by city, department by department – we are working to help our partners make the most of limited resources, and to get law enforcement officers back to work. 

Last month, with this goal in mind, the COPS office announced more than $240 million in new grants to support the hiring and retention of more than 1,000 officers in 238 agencies and municipalities across the country.  These critical funds will help promote not only employment, but public safety – and they’ll also provide support for innovative and cost-effective 21st century policing strategies.

But, while we are excited about what our law enforcement partners will be able to accomplish with these investments, we are far from satisfied.  And we cannot – and will not – forget about the additional 2,300 worthy grant applications – totaling more than $2 billion – that had to be declined because adequate resources were not available to fill them.

Fortunately, President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act would provide significant help in addressing this crisis.  The bill includes $4 billion in funding for law enforcement hiring through the COPS office.  These funds would not only help to safeguard our national security and bolster public safety – they would strengthen our economy by creating or saving essential jobs for first responders.

Yet the Senate has responded to these urgent needs with a proposal for only $200 million in support for such initiatives – and the House of Representatives has zeroed out this allocation altogether. 

This gap is not only drastic – it’s dangerous.  In taking action to combat the conditions that have devastated law enforcement agencies nationwide, we simply can’t afford to wait.

Tomorrow’s progress depends upon the commitments – and investments – we make today. Providing the resources necessary to get our first responders back on our streets – and to give them the tools they need to keep our neighborhoods safe – will not only strengthen our law enforcement community, but also help to ensure a brighter, and safer, future for our nation.

Find out more by reading the full report.

Attorney General Holder Visits the Potomac Job Corps Center
October 13th, 2011 Posted by
Attorney  General Holder visits the Potomac Job Corps Training Center

Attorney General Holder visits the Potomac Job Corps Training Center

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder joined the Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis for a tour of the Potomac Job Corps Center in Washington, D.C. With 120+ nationwide campuses in over 40 states and Puerto Rico, Job Corps centers train over 60,000 students each year.

The U.S. Department of Labor administers the Job Corps career technical and education training program free-of-cost to help youth ages 16 through 24 improve their quality of life and find a career.  Since Job Corps’ beginning in 1964, the program has remained committed to offering students a positive environment for professional and educational success.

The Potomac Job Corps Center lives up to the mission of teaching eligible young people the skills they need to become employable, independent and professionally trained in variety of technical and academic areas.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary Solis speak with young people at the center.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary Solis speak with young people at the center.

During the tour of the Center,  Attorney General Holder joined students of all career areas in a round table discussion to listen to their personal stories, passions and plans for the future, saying:

 “I want to thank all of the students for their inspiring stories. They are the future leaders of this nation and I know their futures will be bright.”

During lunch, students in the Culinary Arts career program showcased their culinary skills for the Attorney General and Department of Labor Secretary Solis. Jobs Corps Center Director, Steven Belk, along with the center’s Student Government Association President, Andrea Williams, thanked Attorney  General Holder and Secretary Solis for visiting and taking time to talk with  the young people there. 

For more information, youth interested in applying to Job Corps should visit: http://www.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx

Champions for Justice
October 13th, 2011 Posted by

 

Attorney General Holder hosts a panel with a selection of the honorees to discuss how to increase access to justice.

Attorney General Holder hosts a panel with a selection of the honorees to discuss how to increase access to justice.

 

 “Equal justice under the law” is more than just a phrase. It is an American ideal, at the core of our belief system.   And yet, for too many Americans, sound legal advice and assistance has been out of reach.

 That is why last year the President and the Attorney General launched the Access to Justice Initiative. It was formed to address this crisis – to ensure that basic legal services are available, affordable and accessible to everyone in this country – regardless of status, income, or wealth.  Across the country, the department has been diligently working with federal, state, local and private partners towards enhancing the availability, and quality of legal representation available to all.

Most defendants are dependent on the service of public lawyers, and in some cases, public defender caseloads are so excessive that they struggle to fulfill their basic obligations to their clients. Many times, these circumstances leave our criminal justice system falling short. Those who suffer most from these shortcomings are often the most vulnerable among us – immigrants, juveniles, the homeless, disabled veterans, or victims of domestic and sexual violence.

However, the innovation and perseverance of dedicated legal professionals across the nation is making a difference. 

 Today the Department of Justice and the White House, came together to celebrate and honor some of these “Champions of Change” who promote access to justice in their communities.  As Attorney General Eric Holder said:

All across the country, each one of them is making a difference – by helping people in dire need access legal services; by securing much-needed benefits for disabled children, military families, and veterans; by paving the way for individuals transitioning out of our prisons and jails to become productive members of their communities; and by helping to safeguard – and to empower – the most vulnerable among us.

Leading advocates from the private and public sector, including defense lawyers, prosecutors, law professors and law students attended the event.  There are 118 law schools watching the event via a live-feed, thousands more students got to witness as the Champions shared their successes and had an open discussion about the work that still remains to be done.

 Beginning on Oct. 17, 2011, a video of the event and Champions’ individual stories will be highlighted at www.whitehouse.gov/champions.  In addition, the Champions’ blogs, as well as entries from each of the 118 participating law schools describing their commitment to public service, will be featured.

 Since its launch, Access to Justice has made an impact in beginning to improve the legal system for all Americans, regardless of status. If you would like to learn more about the Access to Justice Initiative and how you can help in your own community, visit justice.gov/atj  

 
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