Memphis and Shelby County receive More Than Eleven Million Dollars in Awards to Support Efforts to Combat Violent Crime
(STL.News) – Today, the Justice Department announced that the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) have awarded more than $61 million in grant funding to support the Attorney General’s Operation Relentless Pursuit (ORP) initiative. Of that $61 million, the Memphis Police Department will receive over $9.8 million dollars to fund the hiring of 50 new officers, and Shelby County will receive over $1.4 million dollars to provide manpower, technology, equipment, and support for the sustained efforts of the Operation Relentless Pursuit Task Force to target and reduce violent crime in Memphis and Shelby County.
Launched on Dec. 18, 2019, ORP aims to intensify federal law enforcement resources into seven American cities with violent crime levels several times the national average – Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee.
Of the seven selected ORP cities, the Memphis Police Department received the largest amount ($9,823,624) of COPS Hiring Program funds, to hire the most new officers (50).
“While violent crime is down across the country as a whole, some communities remain caught in the grips of violent actors,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “That’s why I launched Operation Relentless Pursuit last December – an initiative to combat violent crime in seven cities where it remains stubbornly high. Today’s grant awards are critical to our mission. We cannot succeed in eradicating crime without resources – the most vital of which are the brave men and women who serve and protect our communities each day. These funds will boost the forces that need them most.”
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, “Good government is about priorities, and includes putting resources where they are needed most. As we observe National Police Week this week, I can think of no better way to support law enforcement than to direct these resources to help them in the fight against violent crime, the Department of Justice’s highest priority. Operation Relentless Pursuit reflects a coordinated team approach, and we applaud our law enforcement partners at the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office for their commitment to this partnership and continued utilization of these resources. We are thankful to be selected by the Attorney General as one of the seven ORP cities for this targeted enforcement action, and we will put these grant dollars to good and immediate use to improve public safety.”
The COPS Office, through its COPS Hiring Program (CHP), awarded a total of $51 million to be used to hire 214 sworn law enforcement officers for state and local law enforcement task forces. The recipients of the funding will deploy existing veteran officers to task force duties and use the CHP funding to hire new recruits to backfill those positions, as practical. Officers deployed to Operation Relentless Pursuit task forces as a result of CHP funding must be sworn, career law enforcement officers of the awarded agency, and their work on the task force must benefit their jurisdiction. In addition, they are required to work with their respective U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) and relevant federal agencies to investigate and prosecute suspects involved in gangs, drug trafficking, and other violent crime related issues.
“Successful strategies to target and reduce violent crime are extremely resource intensive,” said COPS Office Director Phil Keith. “There is no greater resource than additional men and women on the front lines of the relentless fight against gangs, drug traffickers and those that mean harm to our nation’s communities. The funding announced today is greatly needed for the Operation Relentless Pursuit jurisdictions and the COPS Office is honored to dedicate resources for this effort.”
Shelby County was also awarded $1,428,571 in grant resources by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), in order to support the strategic mission of the Operation Relentless Pursuit Task Force in Memphis and Shelby County. The BJA grant award will provide 1) overtime funding for Multi-Agency Gang Unit (and partner agency officers) officers to participate in ORP task force operations in addition to current commitments of officers to other task force operations such as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Department Justice Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN); 2) a prosecutor for the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office to handle ORP arrests vertically through the state criminal justice system to ensure that ORP arrests are followed by strategic prosecution; 3) vehicles for MGU operations; and 4) technological solutions to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent offenders.
The Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is making $10 million available to support Operation Relentless Pursuit. BJA funds will support efforts such as the hiring of additional prosecutors, overtime expenses for task force members, multi-agency investigations,
mobile data terminals and modern technological platforms, and development of strategic plans to address gaps in combating violent crime.
“The responsibility for fighting crime and violence belongs to agencies at every level of government, and winning that fight turns on our ability to deploy our collective resources wisely and effectively,” said Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “We are eager to make these funds available so that our federal, state and local partners can continue the vital and noble work of protecting America’s most dangerous communities.”