The U.S. Department of Justice
has identified Little Rock and West Memphis as targets for a planned expansion of a federal initiative to combat violent crime in select cities nationwide. The other towns added to the DOJ's "Violence Reduction Network" are Compton, Newark and Flint, Mich.
The initiative, which was started by DOJ last year in five other cities, includes no specific commitment of federal money. Its website says
the program aims to deliver "strategic, intensive training and technical assistance" through
USA Today notes
the Violence Reduction Network can be seen as part of a larger pattern of increased federal engagement in local police departments in recent years, including a planned October summit of local law enforcement officials:
The Justice summit builds on an increasing federal re-engagement with local police whose forces in the past two years have been buffeted by questions over lethal force policies and flagging public trust.
Earlier this year, in the face of rising tensions between the police and the public in communities across the nation, a special White House policing task force issued a slate of recommendations aimed at restoring public confidence. The Justice Department also has opened inquiries into the operations of more than 20 police departments across the country since 2009, including earlier this year in Baltimore where days of civil unrest was sparked by the death of a local man in police custody.
The program is distinct from a DOJ grant to the Little Rock Police Department announced last week,
which will allow LRPD to hire 15 new cops.