DOJ’s Proposed 2022 Budget for Grant Funding Reveals Focus On Police Reform

Body cameras, anti-bias training and restrictions on police use of force are all items for proposed funding in DOJ’s FY22 budget

 


Story By Sarah Wilson for Lexipol | Police1.com

 

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved their funding bill in July for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022. We spent some time going through the 168-page report to identify emerging trends for federal law enforcement grants in 2022.

Below are some highlights. Note: At the time of publication, the FY22 budget has not been approved by the Senate and therefore not signed by the president. A continuing resolution has been proposed to maintain continuity of service. Expect more to develop as the FY22 budget is finalized and as grants impacting law enforcement departments are released (typically in the spring).

JAG/COPS FUNDS: FOCUS ON IMPROVING POLICE PRACTICES

Perhaps the most obvious trend in FY22 proposed funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and COPS hiring grant is a focus on police reform. Both programs require jurisdictions to certify through the U.S. Attorney General that the jurisdiction satisfies nine key requirements “aimed at improving police practices.” These practices target issues including racial profiling, excessive force (including choke holds), “no-knock” warrants, and sexual contact between officers and people in their custody.

Several of the nine requirements make reference to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. As bipartisan talks on this legislation have broken down in the Senate, passage of the George Floyd Act looks unlikely at time of publication. Therefore, it’s unclear whether these requirements will be part of the final appropriations bill. Regardless, all agencies should be on notice that the administration is clearly seeking ways to encourage agencies to adopt common police reform measures and consider this when preparing grant funding requests.

Additional stipulations in the funding request also point to the DOJ’s interest in police reform. The bill requires each applicant’s Byrne JAG formula funds to be spent in the following ways:

  • 10% to develop and implement best practices to eliminate racial profiling, including training to prevent racial profiling and to encourage more respectful interaction with the public, the acquisition and use of technology to facilitate the accurate collection and analysis of data, the development and acquisition of feedback systems and technologies that identify officers or units of officers engaged in, or at risk of engaging in, racial profiling or other misconduct, and the establishment and maintenance of an administrative complaint procedure or independent auditor program
  • 5% to assist law enforcement agencies in attaining or maintaining accreditation from certified law enforcement accreditation organizations
  • 5% to study and implement effective management, training, recruiting, hiring, and oversight standards and programs to promote effective community and problem-solving strategies for law enforcement agencies
  • 5% to purchase or lease body-worn cameras; fund body-worn camera programs in order to deter excessive force or improve accountability, transparency and evidence collection; or implement policies or procedures consistent with requirements as described in section 382 of H.R. 1280

OTHER REFORM-MINDED FUNDING

JAG and COPS aren’t the only grant programs mentioned in the DOJ FY22 proposed budget, but as with the JAG and COPS funds, the focus is again on police reform and accountability measures. Highlights include:

  • $35 million for the competitive matching grant program for purchases of body-worn cameras and related expenses

  • $42 million to train law enforcement officers on racial profiling, implicit bias, de-escalation, use of force and the related duty to intervene, and procedural justice
  • $100 million to assist states in conducting “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement
  • $7.2 million to support state and local law enforcement in complying with reform efforts as a result of litigation including, but not limited to, consent decrees, out of court agreements, memoranda of understanding, findings, technical assistance, and recommendation letters from reform authorities
  • $250 million to assist in implementing statutes providing for independent investigation of law enforcement officers
  • $5 million for the National Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight, which is designed to coordinate the detection and referral of complaints regarding incidents of alleged law enforcement misconduct nationwide, in consultation with professional law enforcement associations, labor organizations, and community-based organizations
  • $5 million for continued development and implementation of a first-of-its-kind National Police Misconduct Registry, designed to serve as a central repository of data with respect to all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, to be compiled and maintained by the DOJ

ADDITIONAL GRANT PROGRAMS

The DOJ FY22 proposed budget isn’t only focused on police reform measures. For programs funded under the Violence Against Women Act, the bill provides $753 million an increase of 48% above fiscal year 2021. This includes new grant programs specifically for communities that are underrepresented and underserved, including the deaf and transgender communities.

For school safety, the bill provides $140 million, an increase of $15 million, to fund the STOP School Violence Act of 2018. In addition, the bill increases funding for other activities that will address school violence, including strong funding increases for youth mentoring grants and grants for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. The bill also funds a new program aimed at providing alternatives to incarceration for parents as well as juveniles.

The bill also proposes funding two grant programs aimed at developing new strategies to enhance police/community trust and reduce crime through community approaches. The Public Safety Innovation Grants program would receive $5 million for the development of best practices for, and the creation of, local task forces on public safety innovation. These task forces would be created from partnerships between community-based organizations and other local stakeholders to explore and develop innovative strategies to enhance just and equitable public safety, repair breaches of trust between law enforcement agencies and communities, and enhance officer accountability. And nearly $103 million is allocated for Byrne Discretionary Community Project Grants to prevent crime, improve the criminal justice system and provide victims’ services.

NEXT STEPS

The committee recommended further investigation and research into several emerging issues, including:

  • Access to mental health services for law enforcement

  • Technology-facilitated harassment
  • White supremacist infiltration in law enforcement

The next step in budget approval is the Senate’s appropriation bill approval. Stay tuned!

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Department of Justice Announces Department-Wide Policy on Chokeholds and ‘No-Knock’ Entries

New Policy Limits Circumstances in Which Federal Law Enforcement Can Use Chokeholds and “No-Knock” Entries.
 
The Department of Justice today announced written department-wide policies explicitly prohibiting the use of “chokeholds” and  “carotid restraints” unless deadly force is authorized, and limiting the circumstances in which the department’s federal law enforcement components are authorized to use unannounced entries. The announcement follows a review with the department’s law enforcement agencies led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.
 
“Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability.”
 
“As members of federal law enforcement, we have a shared obligation to lead by example in a way that engenders the trust and confidence of the communities we serve,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “It is essential that law enforcement across the Department of Justice adhere to a single set of standards when it comes to ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ entries. This new policy does just that and limits the circumstances in which these techniques can be used.”
 
Under the new policy, the department’s law enforcement components will be prohibited from using “chokeholds” and “carotid restraints” unless deadly force is authorized, that is “when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”
 
Federal agents are generally required to “knock and announce” their identity, authority and purpose, and demand to enter before entry is made to execute a warrant in a private dwelling. However, there are some circumstances where unannounced entries are authorized.
 
The new policy generally limits the use of “no knock” entries in connection with the execution of a warrant to situations where an agent has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.
 
This new policy is narrower than what is permitted by law. In setting the policy this way, the department is limiting the use of higher-risk “no knock” entries to only those instances where physical safety is at stake. If an agent suspects a threat to physical safety and seeks a “no knock” warrant, the agent must first get supervisory approval from both a federal prosecutor as well as the agent’s law enforcement component.
 
The policy does recognize, however, that there may be rare circumstances when there is justification – other than physical safety – to execute a “no knock” entry.  If an exception is sought when there is no imminent threat of physical safety, the agent must first get approval from the head of the law enforcement component and the U.S. Attorney or relevant Assistant Attorney General before seeking judicial authorization for a “no knock” warrant.
 
For more information, see the Deputy Attorney General’s guidance to the Justice Department’s law enforcement components: https://www.justice.gov/dag/page/file/1432531/download
 
Today’s announcement expands on the department’s efforts to examine the way Justice Department law enforcement components engage with individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
 
See the Deputy Attorney General’s June 7, 2021, memo regarding Body Worn Cameras for the Justice Department’s federal law enforcement agents as well as the Sept. 1, 2021, announcement of the first Justice Department agents to implement BWCs: https://www.justice.gov/dag/page/file/1402061/download and https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-first-federal-agents-use-body-worn-cameras.

Justice Department Announces First Federal Agents to Use Body-Worn Cameras

Today, (September 1) the Department of Justice announced the launch of the first phase of its Body-Worn Camera Program that requires department law enforcement personnel use body-worn cameras (BWCs) during pre-planned law enforcement operations. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Phoenix and Detroit Field Divisions began using BWCs today during these pre-planned operations. Over the course of the next several weeks, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) will begin the first phase of their BWC programs. The department’s plans include a phased implementation of BWCs, and rely upon Congress to secure the necessary funding to equip agents nationwide with BWCs.

“Keeping our communities safe is a top priority for the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Law enforcement is at its most effective when there is accountability and trust between law enforcement and the community. That is why we have expanded our body worn camera program to our federal agents, to promote transparency and confidence, not only with the communities we serve and protect, but also among our state, local and Tribal law enforcement partners who work alongside our federal agents each day.”

“The Department of Justice recognizes the importance of transparency and accountability in its law enforcement operations,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Because there are circumstances where the use of force may occur during planned law enforcement operations, we are committed to the use of body-worn cameras by DOJ law enforcement agents in such circumstances. I am proud of the job performed by the department’s law enforcement agents, and I am confident that these policies will continue to engender the trust and confidence of the American people in the department’s work.”

“ATF welcomes the use of body worn cameras by our agents,” said Acting Director Marvin G. Richardson of the ATF. “The department’s policy reflects ATF’s commitment to transparency as we work to reduce firearm violence in our communities.”

“The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to the safety and security of the people we serve, our agents, and task force officers,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the DEA. “We welcome the addition of body worn cameras and appreciate the enhanced transparency and assurance they provide to the public and to law enforcement officers working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

“The FBI remains committed to meeting the need for transparency,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Phasing in the use of BWCs is another, important way for us to meet that need.”

“Every day USMS task forces lawfully apprehend violent criminals with the utmost professionalism,” said Director Donald Washington of the U.S. Marshals Service. “We continue striving to fortify the public’s trust in our responsibility to uphold the rule of law while keeping communities safe as we have for more than two centuries. Body worn cameras increase the transparency of law enforcement activities, and we will work to obtain the necessary resources to fully execute our body-worn camera program. As we do so, Deputy United States Marshals – along with thousands of local task force officers on USMS-led task forces – will continue to safeguard communities from violent criminals, drug traffickers and threats of terrorism. These interagency task force operations are crucial to public safety.” 

On June 7, based on recommendations from the Department’s law enforcement components, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco directed the ATF, DEA, FBI and USMS to develop individualized comprehensive policies that require agents to wear and activate BWC recording equipment for purposes of recording their actions during: (1) a pre-planned attempt to serve an arrest warrant or other pre-planned arrest, including the apprehension of fugitives sought on state and local warrants; or (2) the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order. Consistent across each of these policies is a presumption that BWC recordings depicting conduct resulting in serious bodily injury or death of another will be released as soon as practical.   

The use of BWCs by federal agents builds upon the department’s October 2019 pilot program and October 2020 policy announcement to permit federally deputized task force officers to activate BWCs during these pre-planned law enforcement operations. Since October 2020, ATF, DEA, FBI and USMS have been integrating the use of BWCs on federal task forces around the nation. The department continues to encourage participating task force agencies to contact the sponsoring federal agency for more information about their BWC program.

Justice Department to Provide Funding for Body-Worn Cameras to Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

The Justice Department announced today that the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is releasing $7.65 million in a competitive microgrant grant solicitation that will fund body-worn cameras (BWCs) to any law enforcement department with 50 or fewer full-time sworn personnel, rural agencies (those agencies within non-urban or non-metro counties); and federally-recognized Tribal agencies.

“The Justice Department is committed to providing law enforcement with valuable resources to increase accountability and build trust with the communities they serve,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today we encourage all small, rural and Tribal law enforcement agencies to apply for funding for this important tool that will enhance protection for both officers and citizens.”

“The grant solicitation today will help law enforcement agencies and their communities improve evidentiary outcomes, and enhance the safety of, and improve interactions between, officers and the public,” said Acting Director Kristen Mahoney of BJA. “Importantly, this grant program will make it easier for small, rural and Tribal law enforcement agencies to apply for funding. It’s an online application that will streamline the grant process for these agencies.”

Funds must be used to purchase or lease body-worn cameras and may include expenses reasonably related to BWC program implementation. Funding can be used to support pilot BWC programs, establish new BWC implementation or expand existing programs.

BJA has selected Justice & Security Strategies Inc. to administer the grant program through a cooperative agreement. For more information and to apply, please visit https://www.srtbwc.com. All applications are due by August 31, 2021.

Agencies interested in body-worn camera funding that do not meet the eligibility criteria for small, rural and Tribal as described in the microgrant solicitation should note that the FY 2021 Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program to Support Law Enforcement Agencies grant solicitation is currently open. That solicitation will close on July 12, 2021. The anticipated total amount to be awarded under that solicitation is $27.5 million.

Today’s announcement follows Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco’s recent memo  to the department’s law enforcement components directing them to develop and submit for review their plans for BWC policies that require agents to wear and activate BWC recording equipment for purposes of recording their actions during: (1) a pre-planned attempt to serve an arrest warrant or other pre-planned arrest, including the apprehension of fugitives sought on state and local warrants; or (2) the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order. The Deputy Attorney General will work with the department’s law enforcement components in the coming weeks to review their policies and finalize implementation plans. 

For resources to support the development and implementation of body-worn camera programs, the Department of Justice has created a Body-Worn Camera Tool Kit.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance helps to make American communities safer by strengthening the nation’s criminal justice system. BJA’s grants, cooperative agreements, training and technical assistance and policy development services provide state, local and Tribal governments with the cutting-edge tools and best practices they need to reduce violent and drug-related crime, support law enforcement and combat victimization.

BJA is a component of the Office of Justice ProgramsU.S. Department of Justice. The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov

Missouri governor, AG Send Defiant Response to Justice Department Over Gun Law

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Missouri Governor Mike Parson

 
Story By Summer Ballentine (Associated Press)​ for ​KSDK

Missouri’s Republican governor and attorney general said in a defiant letter to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday that they stand by the state’s new law that would ban police from enforcing federal gun rules.

Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt wrote that they still plan to enforce the new law, which Parson signed Saturday. The measure would penalize local police departments if their officers​​ enforce federal gun laws.

Schmitt and Parson wrote that they will “fight tooth and nail” to defend the right to own guns as spelled out in the state constitution and the new law.

“We will not tolerate any attempts by the federal government to deprive Missourians of this critical civil right,” they wrote.

In a letter sent Wednesday night and obtained by The Associated Press, Justice Department officials pointed out that federal law trumps state law under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Brian Boynton, an acting assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said in the letter that Missouri’s law threatens to disrupt the working relationship between federal and local law enforcement and noted that the state receives federal grants and technical assistance.

Prosecutors in Missouri’s attorney general’s office have already withdrawn from nearly two dozen federal drug, gun and carjacking cases in St. Louis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. They had been working with federal counterparts as part of the Safer Streets initiative that Schmitt touted in 2019. Attorneys from Schmitt’s office were deputized as assistant U.S. attorneys to help prosecute violent crimes.

Missouri’s new law would subject law enforcement agencies with officers who knowingly enforce federal gun laws to a fine of about $50,000 per violating officer.

Boynton said Missouri’s law “conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulation” and that federal law would supersede the state’s new statute. He said federal agents and the U.S. attorney’s offices in the state would continue to enforce all federal firearms laws and regulations. He asked that Parson and Schmitt clarify the law and how it would work in a response by Friday.

Republican lawmakers who pushed Missouri’s new law said they were motivated by the potential for more restrictive gun laws under Democratic President Joe Biden. But state Democrats argued that it is unconstitutional and would likely get overturned if challenged in court.

Similar bills were introduced in more than a dozen other states this year, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to become a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary.

Several states passed similar laws under then-president Barack Obama, though judges have ruled against them.

Justice Department Issues Proposed Rule and Model Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence

​From the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs:  New Steps Would Enhance Enforcement of the National Firearms Act and Aid States in Drafting “Extreme Risk Protection Order” Laws

 

Today, the Department of Justice announced two new steps to help address the continuing epidemic of gun violence affecting communities across the country.

First, the department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that makes clear that when individuals use accessories to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles, they must comply with the heightened regulations on those dangerous and easily concealable weapons.

Second, the department published model legislation to help states craft their own “extreme risk protection order” laws, sometimes called “red flag” laws. By sending the proposed rule to the Federal Register and publishing the model legislation today, the department has met the deadlines that the Attorney General announced alongside President Biden in April. 

“The Justice Department is determined to take concrete steps to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today we continue to deliver on our promise to help save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans. We welcome the opportunity to work with communities in the weeks and months ahead in our shared commitment to end gun violence.”

The department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would make clear that the statutory restrictions on short-barreled rifles apply to pistols that are equipped with certain stabilizing braces and intended to be fired from the shoulder.

The National Firearms Act imposes heightened regulations on short-barreled rifles because they are easily concealable, can cause great damage, and are more likely to be used to commit crimes. But companies now sell accessories that make it easy for people to convert pistols into these more dangerous weapons without going through the statute’s background check and registration requirements.

These requirements are important public safety measures because they regulate the transfer of these dangerous weapons and help ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands. The proposed rule would clarify when these attached accessories convert pistols into weapons covered by these heightened regulations.

Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 90 days to submit comments.  To view the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, please see here.

The department also published model legislation and detailed commentary that will make it easier for states to craft “extreme risk protection orders” authorizing courts to temporarily bar people in crisis from accessing firearms.

By allowing family members or law e​​nforcement to intervene and to petition for these orders before warning signs turn into tragedy, “extreme risk protection orders” can save lives. They are also an evidence-based approach to the problem.

The model legislation, developed after consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, provides a framework that will help more states enact these sensible laws.

To read the model legislation, please see here.

To learn more about the rulemaking process, please see here.

 

Photo from gunsmagazine.com

DOJ Fiscal Year 2022 Funding Request

Proposal Reinvigorates Civil Rights Enforcement, Counters International and Domestic Terrorism, Combats Violent Crime and Gun Violence, Advances Environmental Justice, Invests in Community Policing, Addresses Inequities in the Nation’s Criminal Justice System, and Reduces the Immigration Court Backlog

The President today submitted his Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to Congress, totaling $35.3 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ).  

The request seeks to sustain and enhance the Justice Department’s vital work to counter both international and domestic terrorism, reinvigorate civil rights enforcement, address inequities in the nation’s criminal justice system, combat gun violence, advance environmental justice and help reduce the backlog in the nation’s immigration courts.

“This budget proposal advances the Justice Department’s three overarching goals: keeping Americans safe, adhering to the Rule of Law, and seeking equal justice under law for everyone,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These funds will strengthen our ability to counter international and domestic terrorism, support our efforts to curb violent crime, enhance our enforcement of voting rights and other civil rights laws, protect our nation from cyber-attacks, and double our resources dedicated to addressing gender-based violence and the support of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Our request will increase public safety through investments in policing and criminal justice reform, as well as by dedicating funds to combating gun violence. Importantly, this budget makes a down payment on improving access to justice, a prerequisite to equal justice. The department looks forward to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to help secure its timely passage.”

At the Department of Justice, the Budget would provide:

  • More than $1.5 billion to combat international and domestic terrorism – an increase of more than 12% over the FY 2021– which includes an additional $101.2 million to address domestic terrorism with a broadscale approach across the Department.
  • $2.1 billion, an increase of $184.3 million, to combat gun violence while focusing on programs that address both gun safety and violent crime.
  • $177.2 million over the FY 2021 appropriation to reinvigorate Federal civil rights efforts, including to re-establish and expand the Office for Access to Justice and to support the Community Relations Service with conciliators in local communities.
  • $1.0 billion, an increase of $486.5 million, to address gender-based violence through the Office on Violence Against Women, nearly twice the FY 2021 investment in this effort.
  • $1.6 billion, an increase of $669.3 million, to implement further reforms to the criminal justice system and continue critical investment in implementation of the First Step Act of 2018.
  • $1.3 billion, an increase of $379.8 million, to support programs designed to further strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
  • $44.0 million in new resources to advance environmental justice initiatives, including facilities modernization and repair.
  • $177.5 million more than FY 2021 to reduce the immigration court backlog and fund new legal support efforts for children and families.
  • $1.1 billion, an increase of $150.7 million, to augment Cyber Investigations and Cyber Security.

Countering International and Domestic Terrorism

As the Nation’s top law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice is devoted to a broad-scale approach to counter the threat of both international and domestic terrorism. While the United States has seen unprecedented and troubling levels of domestic violent extremism, the department and its law enforcement agencies remain acutely aware of the threats posed by international terrorist organizations. The budget request includes increased funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the principal DOJ law enforcement agency charged with combating terrorism, to conduct domestic terrorism investigations, and for the U.S. Attorneys to manage increasing domestic terrorism caseloads. Further, the budget will support additional response capabilities at the U.S. Marshals Service and support research on the root causes of domestic radicalization at the National Institute of Justice.

The FY 2022 budget invests more than $1.5 billion to combat international and domestic terrorism, including an additional an $101.2 million to address the rising threat of domestic terrorism. 

Combating Violent Crime and Gun Violence

The Department is committed to addressing the epidemic of gun violence and other violent crime that has taken the lives of too many people in our communities. As part of the department’s recently announced strategy to reduce violent crime, including through grantmaking opportunities, the budget request establishes innovative new grants for States to incentivize Red Flag and Gun Licensing Laws; creates a new $100 million Community Violence Intervention Initiative to tackle gun violence in our neighborhoods; provides grants for Project Safe Neighborhoods, and expands ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. A new pilot program promotes the development, adoption and use of programs designed to help communities address situations where people become legally prohibited from possessing the firearms they own. 

The FY 2022 budget invests $2.1 billion to address gun violence and gun safety, an increase of $184.3 million over FY 2021. 

Reinvigorating Civil Rights Efforts 

Protecting our Nation’s civil rights is a top priority for the Department, as far too many of our citizens still face discrimination. To help protect marginalized communities, the budget request includes funding to re-establish the Office for Access to Justice, and increases funding for the Civil Rights Division, the Community Relations Service, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women. These funds will support the enforcement of voting rights and the protection of constitutional and civil rights; mediation and conciliation services for community conflicts arising from discriminatory practices; the prosecution of hate crimes across the nation, especially in communities uniquely impacted by bias, xenophobia and hate driven by the COVID-19 pandemic; and other civil rights activities.

The FY 2022 budget invests a total of $307.2 million in civil rights efforts, an increase of $177.2 million over FY 2021

Addressing Inequities in the Criminal Justice System

The Department’s budget request addresses the need to ensure equal justice for all Americans. The budget request prioritizes improving community relations through the Office of Justice Programs. The budget request establishes new programs for community-based alternatives to prison, expands the Part B Formula Grants, and increases funding for the Second Chance Act program. The Department will implement Executive Order 14006 by transferring Federal Prisoner Detention detainees from privately operated to alternate State, local, and Federal facilities with an additional $75.0 million. Finally, the budget continues the historic investment of $409.5 million by the Bureau of Prisons in the First Step Act.

The FY 2022 budget invests over $1.6 billion to address inequities in the criminal justice system in America, an increase of $669.3 million over FY 2021 levels. 

Investing in Community Policing 

Creating strong, positive ties between law enforcement and the communities they serve is critical to making the Nation’s communities safer and to rooting out systemic inequities in the justice system. Providing resources to police departments to help them reform and gain the trust of communities is a priority of this Department and this Administration. The department’s budget addresses the need to further strengthen relationships between communities and police officers by hiring local police officers and investing in racial sensitivity, hate crime and implicit bias training.

The FY 2022 budget invests a total of $1.3 billion to support law enforcement agencies, including through programs that support community-oriented policing policies and practices, as well as training for law enforcement on racial profiling, de-escalation and the duty to intervene. This is a $379.8 million increase over the FY 2021 level. 

Advancing Environmental Justice

The Department is committed advancing environmental justice and supports the President’s Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” The Executive Order establishes a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing the climate crisis and formalizes the government’s commitment to environmental justice. The budget request includes increased funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Division to expand its use of existing authorities in affirmative cases to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change and to continue defensive and other work related to climate change. In addition, the Bureau of Prison will invest in energy saving modernization and repair projects to replace aging equipment with energy efficient models, resulting in reduced energy costs and consumption, as well as other environmentally-sound operational benefits. 

The FY 2022 budget invests $44.0 million to advance environmental justice, tackle climate change, and enhance environmental stability. 

Reducing the Immigration Court Backlog

Although the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has doubled the number of Immigration Judges onboard since 2015, caseloads continue to grow at an even faster pace, and processing times continue to increase due to a rise in the number of complex adjudications, such as those of asylum claims. The FY 2022 budget addresses this challenge by both providing additional Immigration Judges, and by promoting efficiency initiatives within EOIR. The request supports hiring 100 new Immigration Judges, as well as necessary support staff and attorneys. The request would also enable EOIR to continue to modernize its IT capabilities. 

The FY 2022 budget invests $177.5 million in new resources to reduce the immigration court backlog, as well as create the Legal Representation for Immigrant Children and Families Pilot, which supports the enhancement of legal representation of immigrant children and families who seek asylum and other forms of legal protection in the United States after entering at the borders. 

DOJ Announces New Efforts to Reduce Violent Crime

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on May 26 announced a new Department of Justice effort to help protect our communities from the recent increase in major violent crimes.

“Today, we renew our commitment to reducing violent crime and building strong communities where all Americans are safe,” said Attorney General Garland. “The Deputy Attorney General is issuing a comprehensive strategy to deploy our federal resources in the most effective way, disrupting the most dangerous threats and supporting the ground-level efforts of local law enforcement.  In this endeavor, we will engage our communities as critical partners. And through our grantmaking, we will support programming at all stages – from the earliest violence interruption strategies to post-conviction reentry services.”

The strategy announced today is three-pronged. First, it establishes a set of four fundamental principles to be applied Department-wide to guide violent crime reduction:

  1. Build trust and earn legitimacy. Meaningful law enforcement engagement with, and accountability to, the community are essential underpinnings of any effective strategy to address violent crime, as well as important ends in themselves. Accordingly, building trust and earning legitimacy within our communities is the foundation on which the strategy is built. 
  2. Invest in prevention and intervention programs. Violent crime is not a problem that can be solved by law enforcement alone. Accordingly, the Department must invest in community-based violence prevention and intervention programs that work to keep violence from happening before it occurs.
  3. Target enforcement efforts and priorities. The Department is most effective when it focuses its limited enforcement resources on identifying, investigating, and prosecuting the most significant drivers of gun violence and other violent crime.
  4. Measure results. Because the fundamental goal of this work is to reduce the level of violence in our communities, not to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions as if they were ends in themselves—we must measure the results of our efforts on these grounds.

The whole-of-Department approach means that these four fundamental principles will guide not only the Department’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, but also its law enforcement components (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the United States Marshals Service (USMS)),  its grant-making components (the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC)), and litigating divisions, such as the Criminal Division.

Second, the strategy enhances the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program by directing all U.S. Attorneys across the country to update their PSN programs to be aligned with the Department’s guiding principles to improve community engagement, support proven community-violence intervention programs, develop strategic enforcement plans in coordination with state, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners as well as community groups, and measure the effectiveness of these collective efforts to reduce violence. By drawing on lessons learned from research and experience over the past two decades, the Department will help ensure that PSN remains the leading initiative bringing together law enforcement partners at all levels and a broad array of community stakeholders to develop comprehensive solutions to the more pressing violent crime problems in our communities. 

Third, the strategy directs each U.S. Attorney’s Office to work with its state, local, federal, Tribal, and community partners to establish an immediate plan to address spikes in violent crime that are typically seen during the summer.

The Department recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that the needs of each jurisdiction will vary based on the nature of violent crimes and the ability of local criminal justice systems to respond. Thus, the Department has committed to providing the following additional support where it is needed and appropriate:

  • The FBI will make available cutting-edge analytical resources to support state and local law enforcement efforts to identify the most violent offenders and most dangerous criminal organizations in communities.  The FBI will then deploy agents to assist with enforcement operations targeting these entities. 
  • Where feasible, the ATF will embed with local homicide units and expand the availability of its NIBIN Correlation Center, which matches ballistics from crime scenes to other ballistic evidence nationwide.
  • The DEA will focus its efforts, in coordination with state, local and Tribal law enforcement, to disrupt the activities of the most violent drug trafficking gangs and egregious drug-trafficking organizations operating in the highest-crime areas.
  • The United States Marshals Service, in coordination with state and local authorities, will conduct fugitive sweeps throughout the country focused on individuals subject to state or local warrants for homicide, aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated robbery, robbery with a firearm, rape or aggravated sexual assault.
  • The Department’s grantmaking components will highlight funding opportunities for community programs focused on reducing gun violence and other violent crime, share information about effective community-violence intervention programs, and provide training and technical assistance to support the violent crime reduction work of state, local, tribal and community partners.

To learn more, see the Deputy Attorney General’s detailed guidance to federal prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and other components across the Department of Justice.  A Fact Sheet on 2021 Grant Opportunities and Other Resources to Support Violent Crime Reduction can be found here.

Deadline Extended for the Fifth Annual AG Award for Distinguished Service in Policing

The Department of Justice has extended the nomination deadline for the Fifth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing. The nomination period is now open until Monday, June 28, 2021 at 8 p.m. ET. Detailed information regarding the nomination process for this award is available at www.justice.gov/ag/policing-award.  

The Attorney General’s Award recognizes individual state, local and tribal sworn, rank-and-file police officers and deputies for exceptional efforts in community policing. The awarded officers, deputies and troopers will have demonstrated active engagement with the community in one of three areas: criminal investigations, field operations or innovations in policing. Within each category, an award will be given to law enforcement agencies serving small, medium, and large jurisdictions. Those agency sizes are defined as:

  • Small: Agencies serving populations fewer than 50,000
  • Medium: Agencies serving populations 50,000 to 250,000
  • Large: Agencies serving populations over 250,000

Nominations may be submitted by the potential recipient’s supervisors, professional peers, or members of their local community.  Nominations may include references and URL links to news sources and promotional or other materials that describe or substantiate the activity, program, or initiative for which the nominee(s) is being nominated. Please note: Nominee(s) (rank-and-file officers, deputies, and troopers) must be in a non-supervisory position at the time the nominated event, activities, and/or programs occurred to be an eligible candidate for this award.

Nominations must be submitted through the web-based application form in the following format. The online application will direct the nominating individuals to complete the following fields:

  1. Name and rank of nominee(s) (must be rank-and-file officers, deputies, or troopers in a nonsupervisory position), the lead agency name, and the size of population served by the agency
  2. Name and affiliation of the nominating individual
  3. Nomination category for the action(s), program(s), or initiative(s) for which the nominee(s) is being nominated (Criminal Investigations, Field Operations, or Innovations in Policing)
  4. A detailed description of the specific action(s), program(s), or initiative(s) of the nominee(s) for which s/he is being nominated
  5. Agency point of contact information

To nominate someone for this award, please visit https://www.justice.gov/ag/webform/policing-award-nomination. Nominations must be submitted by 8:00 p.m. ET on Monday, June 28, 2021. In the event that agencies or other nominating parties are unable to access the online application, nomination letters may be sent via email. The nomination letter should be no longer than three pages and should include the fields listed here. Nominations submitted in letter format must be sent via email to dojpolicingawards@usdoj.gov by 8:00 p.m. ET on Monday, June 28, 2021.

Please direct all general inquiries to dojpolicingawards@usdoj.gov

Justice Department Partnership Finds More Than 300 Unidentified Persons Through Fingerprint Analysis

The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs recently announced an important milestone reached through a partnership between OJP’s National Institute of Justice and the FBI.

The collaborative effort to match unidentified persons’ fingerprints to biometric and criminal history information made its 300th identification in March 2021.

“This latest milestone affirms the essential role that forensic science plays in solving crimes and ensuring public safety,” said NIJ Acting Director Jennifer Scherer. “Our partnership with the FBI continues to yield impressive results in the face of daunting investigative challenges, establishing identities out of the thinnest of evidence and delivering long-awaited answers to families of the missing, often after years of anguish and uncertainty.”

In February 2017, NIJ’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUs) program and the FBI Laboratory began searching unidentified persons’ fingerprints through the FBI’s NextGeneration Identification System (NGI). The NGI system is the world’s largest and most efficient electronic repository of biometric and criminal history information and enables analysis of poor-quality entries in the FBI’s fingerprint database, allowing more focused searches and increasing the likelihood of identification, even with prints that have been searched many times in the past.

NamUs is currently the only national database of cases involving unidentified persons, with currently over 13,638 cases.

FBI Acting Assistant Director Eric Pokorak of the Laboratory Division said, “The FBI Laboratory is proud of our partnership with NIJ, the critical forensic support we provide toNAMUS, and through that collaboration offering a degree of solace to the loved ones of the missing.”

Since then, 2,647 fingerprint cards have been examined, resulting in the current total of312 identifications, many of which are cold case homicide investigations. Of that number, 34were homicide victims, and another 83 are undetermined cases which may be homicides.

In one recent case, an unidentified person’s prints were of such poor quality that they could not previously be submitted for fingerprint searches. Using NGI, the decedent was identified as a migrant worker, and the process of finding Next of Kin was started. Had the card not been uploaded into NamUs, the person would have gone unidentified indefinitely.

More information about NamUs and the FBI Latent Print Support Unit can be found at www.namus.gov and https://www.fbi.gov/services/laboratory/biometric-analysis/latent-print, respectively.

Information about the National Institute of Justice is available at www.nij.gov.