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Justice Department boosts funds to cities to battle rise in crime

<i>Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images</i><br/>US Attorney General Merrick Garland
Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
US Attorney General Merrick Garland

By Christina Carrega and Evan Perez, CNN

The Justice Department is closing out the year with a surge in grants for public safety programs in cities across the country, including many grappling with a dramatic rise in violent crime.

In recent days, the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs announced that hundreds of communities and organizations are being awarded or are eligible to receive a slice of $1.6 billion in grant awards to support a wide range of programs designed to reduce violent crime.

“The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our state and local partners to combat crime across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on December 20. “This latest round of funding will deliver critical public safety resources, helping public safety professionals, victim service providers, local agencies and nonprofit organizations confront these serious challenges.”

Among those grants for fiscal year 2021, the Justice Assistance Grant program will share more than $271.9 million — $187 million to 56 state law enforcement agencies and over $84.9 million to more than 900 cities and counties. The budget for the JAG program increased from fiscal year 2020 where $235 million was awarded.

The JAG funds can be used to support a broad range of activities and fund programs or initiatives that may include “multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces, crime prevention and domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment, justice information sharing initiatives, or other programs aimed at reducing crime and/or enhancing public/officer safety,” according to the program’s description.

The grants follow a tumultuous period for cities, many of which struggled with protests last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. In response to the protests, lawmakers in some cities like San Francisco, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City proposed cutting back on their police departments’ budgets to redirect the funds into other community programs.

Justice Department officials say that even the federal government intends to provide funds to help local authorities deal with rising crime in a variety of ways.

Among the cities and their surrounding areas on the grants list: Chicago was awarded $2,407,095 and Seattle was awarded $771,127. Philadelphia is eligible for $1,499,662; Baltimore can receive $1,364,052; New York City is eligible for $4,095,916 and Los Angeles may collect $2,692,835.

Jurisdictions, including Minneapolis, in Hennepin County — where four former police officers were charged in connection to Floyd’s murder and ex-cop Kim Potter was recently convicted for causing the death of Daunte Wright — were awarded $590,659; Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is eligible for $922,735; and the city and San Francisco county can receive $460,341.

The largest JAG state recipients include $19,447,453 to California’s Board of State and Community Corrections, $14,531,729 to the office for the Governor of Texas, and $10,886,155 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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