The City of Flint has been selected by the United States Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) to join the Violence Reduction Network (VRN), a comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime in communities around the country. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced that Flint was one of five new cities to join the VRN.
Along with Flint, the new partnering cities are Little Rock, Arkansas; West Memphis, Arkansas; Compton, California; and Newark, New Jersey. They join the inaugural sites of Detroit; Chicago; Camden, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware; and Oakland and Richmond, California. VRN was launched by the Department of Justice in 2014.
“The Violence Reduction Network uses every tool in the Justice Department’s toolbox to help communities combat violent crime. And we deploy these resources in a targeted, strategic, data-driven way to get the most bang for our buck,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. “While we’re still early in this process with the five cities we announced last year, we’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far. And we’re looking forward to getting down to work in the five new cities we’re announcing today.”
Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Police Chief James W. Tolbert joined an audience of U.S. Attorneys, police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, local leaders from the ten sites and Department of Justice representatives at the second annual VRN Summit today in Detroit. The VRN partners with communities identified as having violent crime trends that exceed the national average, have “distinctive characteristics”, including federal initiatives and organizational structure, and who have demonstrated a willingness to participate in collaborative efforts with federal partners.
“While Flint continues to deal with high rates of violence, I am proud that Chief Tolbert and the Flint Police Department is being recognized for its commitment to reducing crime and trying new approaches,” said Mayor Walling.
Among the fundamental components of the VRN is the provision of an assigned liaison to the U.S. Department of Justice. For Flint it is former City of Tampa, Florida Chief of Police Jane Castor. This liaison will help the City develop additional joint initiatives with federal law enforcement as well as securing customized technical training assistance and providing enhanced information sharing with partners. In addition, all partner sites are invited to participate in annual summits which feature specialized work groups and collaborative sessions that address specific topics and the best U.S. DOJ resources available to address them rather than providing dedicated funding for local communities.
“I’m am please the Flint PD will receive training and technical assistance from the DOJ,” said Chief Tolbert. “I fully intend on using these collaborative partners with our current partners that include MSP, ATF, DEA, USMS, HSI and the FBI and address the violent crime in the City of Flint.”
Through the VRN, the Justice Department enlists tactical and operational expertise available from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys, the Community Oriented Policing Services Office and the Office on Violence Against Women. More information on the VRN can be found at https://www.bja.gov/Programs/VRN.html on the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) website.