The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio and allied organizations don’t want Cleveland to participate in a federal program to crack down on violent crime because of the Trump administration’s policies.
On June 3, Attorney General William Barr announced that Cleveland and nine other cities would be joining the National Public Safety Partnership, which U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said will “provide additional training and technical support to law enforcement in Cleveland.”
“These resources will improve our collective ability to analyze crime trends and direct resources as needed, including enhancements to our current ongoing efforts focused on firearms, carjackings, armed robberies and other crimes of violence,” Herdman said in a press release.
Barr said that the National Public Safety Partnership is “a successful program that directs federal law enforcement resources to the cities where they can have the greatest impact.”
“Several participating cities have already seen dramatic reductions in violent crime over the past two years,” he added.
In a June 12 letter, the ACLU wrote to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson asking him to reconsider his city’s participation in the program.
“We write to you today concerned about the recent announcement that Cleveland will be one of 10 additional cities nationwide to partner with the U.S. Department of Justice to address violent crime. While we support city officials attempts to protect individuals from crime and improve safety in our communities, recent changes in programming and priorities by the DOJ leave us skeptical that this partnership will benefit Cleveland residents,” states the letter.
“Over the past two years, the DOJ has initiated a number of alarming changes,” it continues, citing the Trump administration’s “enforced immigration policies that targeted people of color and instilled fear in many communities, making victims and witnesses less likely to come forward.”
The letter also objects to the DOJ’s efforts to pursue “harsh penalties for drug possession and use,” its “investment in private prisons,” and its attempts to pull “the plug on investigations into traumatic fatal police shootings.”
“These policies represent a step back to enforcement-heavy approaches that have failed to stop crime and protect our communities, and lead to overpopulated jails,” the letter concludes.
In addition to the ACLU of Ohio, the letter was signed by Cleveland’s chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the InterReligious Task Force on Central America, the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, the Ohio Immigration Alliance, and the Ohio Student Association.
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