Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $4,300,000)
The United States is experiencing a surge in violent crime, most notably gun crime, homicides, and aggravated assaults, which Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Deputy Director Paul Abbate recently noted are “occurring at an appalling pace.” According to FBI data, more than 21,000 homicides were reported in 2020—4,901 more than in 2019—the biggest leap since the 1960s. Overall violent crime—including homicides, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—increased by 5.6 percent from 2019 to 2020. As communities recover from the pandemic, many are coping with complex social issues, including calls for police reform in the wake of high-profile officer-involved incidents, hindering community trust and engagement. Following are other examples of the challenges facing the criminal justice community:
Recruitment and retention are systemic problems across the nation.
Gun crime is at epidemic proportions, and ghost guns are contributing to this problem.
Advances in technology to aid law enforcement are of immense value, but their successful integration into operations requires commitment and access to quality training and technical assistance (TTA).
Police are not the only criminal justice professionals facing challenges. Other professionals such as prosecutors are coping with similar issues due to an overload of work, stress, and trauma.
The National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) has worked with more than 50 cities across the country to address these and other critical issues related to violent crime reduction and improving community engagement. The stressors caused by the pandemic and other sociopolitical issues are best addressed with a solid violence reduction strategy, evidence-based practices, and community engagement. Quality, vetted TTA, along with sharing lessons learned and promising practices among jurisdictions and criminal justice professionals, can improve stress management practices while focusing on creating safer communities. Solutions to these challenges must involve all stakeholders, from police and prosecutors to community members, clergy, schools, public health organizations, victim service providers, parole and probation, and corrections.
As the incumbent TTA provider responsible for the infrastructure of PSP, including peer exchanges, communities of practice, websites, dashboards, the PSP Virtual Academy, field communications tools, and the coordination of annual symposiums, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR) is the most well-positioned TTA provider to deliver innovative programmatic services on behalf of the Bureau of Justice Assistance.