Justice Department Skips Baltimore for Crime-Fighting Partnership Tailored Toward Violence-Plagued Cities

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Jeff Sessions at a Trump campaign rally. Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s first coordinated federal-state-local partnership to fight crime in America’s most violence-riddled cities. To the surprise of many, Charm City was left off the list.

The new program, dubbed the National Public Safety Partnership, brings various divisions of the Justice Department – prosecutors, FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents, U.S. Marshals among them – together to work with state and city authorities to crack down on violent crime.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about the rollout of the program at a meeting of law enforcement officials in Bethesda this morning. He said it “will help these communities build up their own capacity to fight crime, by making use of data-driven, evidence-based strategies tailored to specific local concerns, and by drawing upon the expertise and resources” of the DOJ.

Baltimore regularly makes the news – and, in fact, was a common talking point used by President Trump when he was campaigning – for its soaring murder and violent crime rates. Sessions said in his announcement that the locations chosen for the program are “American cities suffering from serious violent crime problems.”

Putting two and two together, observers were surprised to see Charm City left off a list of a dozen cities that were picked for the Public Safety Partnership. Picks included Birmingham, Ala., Indianapolis, Memphis, Buffalo, Baton Rouge, Lansing, Mich., and Houston.

Politico speculated that Baltimore may have been offered to participate, but declined. That was not the case, according to city police.

“I am surprised to learn Baltimore was not selected by the Department of Justice’s National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) as a jurisdiction that would benefit from enhanced federal involvement regarding gun violence, gangs, and drug trafficking,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement.

The 12 cities picked in this first round will receive diagnostic evaluations for how to combat their unique crime trends, as well as coaching, training and collaborative opportunities with federal authorities and prosecutors to combat crime for the next three years.

Baltimore has received some federal help this year. In May, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lent city police a forensics van to investigate gun crimes with technology that links up to a national ballistics database. There’s also the consent decree signed by a federal judge this past winter that requires sweeping police reforms, though that happened only in spite of Sessions’ efforts to delay it.

Not all hope is lost for Baltimore. The DOJ “anticipates” adding more cities to its violence-fighting partnership program later this year, Sessions said.

Davis noted as much in his statement, saying, “I understand the Attorney General may select additional jurisdictions in the future, and I look forward to DOJ’s favorable consideration of Baltimore.”

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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1 COMMENT

  1. My hunch is that sanctuary cities are going to be at the bottom of the list. Why bother offering help when the Baltimore city council voted unanimously to admonish Trump and his policies. Did anyone really think that was going to turn out well?

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