WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today said newly-announced federal efforts to aid local law enforcement in Little Rock and West Memphis will help the communities address their “unique needs” and “will prove to be a vitally important component in the efforts to enhance public safety” in the two Arkansas cities.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Little Rock and West Memphis as two of the five newest cities in the department’s Violence Reduction Network (VRN) program today. VRN is a comprehensive program that leverages existing DOJ resources to deliver strategic, intensive training and technical assistance to reduce violence in some of the country’s most violent cities. The program creates a partnership between federal and local law enforcement leaders focused on effective approaches to violence reduction strategies.
“This program is effective because it empowers local law enforcement, instead of dictating what needs to be done from Washington. VRN will complement the crime-fighting efforts on the ground in Little Rock and West Memphis by enabling local law enforcement to tap expertise across federal law enforcement agencies to help address their community’s unique needs. It should prove to be a vitally important component in the efforts to enhance public safety in Little Rock and West Memphis,” Boozman said.
Earlier this year, Boozman raised the possibility of a VRN designation for Little Rock and West Memphis in response to rising violent crime rates with then Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Director B. Todd Jones during a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee hearing. Director Jones touted the successes of the VRN program and said that it has been discussed as we try to address “unacceptable levels, at times, of violent crime” in Little Rock.
Five communities were selected when DOJ launched VRN last year: Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Camden, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware and the neighboring towns of Oakland and Richmond, California. Little Rock and West Memphis join Flint, Michigan; Compton, California; and Newark, New Jersey in the second round of designations.