(STL.News) – Thank you, Tracey. I’m so glad to join you and the committee this morning. Let me take this opportunity to thank Tracey. Not everyone here may be aware that I recently asked Tracey to take the post of Acting Director for the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). You all know Tracey and the tremendous experience and expertise she brings to the job, not to mention her strong commitment to information sharing. I’m really glad to have her at the helm of BJA.
I want to thank you all for being here today and for the important work you’re doing to provide information sharing guidance to the attorney general. If you don’t know this about him already, Attorney General Barr is a leader who will do whatever it takes to give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs as effectively – and as safely – as possible, and he understands that there are few things more critical to that task than the capacity to share information and criminal intelligence.
I know, from talking with Tracey, that this committee has been providing superb leadership in helping law enforcement build its collective information sharing capacity.
I want to thank Sheriff Milstead for his work as Vice-Chair, and I want to thank every member of the committee for the work you do, both as part of Global and in your communities back home. A special shout-out to our friends at the FBI and DHS for their partnership.
Given that this is my first Global meeting as head of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), I think it’s appropriate that I say a word or two about myself.
I worked as a local prosecutor, where I served on a community-based domestic violence task force. I also served as state trial court judge, where I heard over 45,000 cases. During this time, I created drug and DUI courts. I also served on the victim compensation board in Colorado. Before joining OJP, I had the privilege of leading the Office on Violence Against Women for over a year. Having been part of the criminal justice system most of my career, I understand that a comprehensive and effective information sharing network is not a luxury, but a necessity.
I’m really pleased that OJP – and in particular, BJA – is helping state and local agencies build their capacity, through the Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) program. In fact, we just awarded almost $29 million to the six RISS centers, and another $4.7 million to provide technical assistance and technology support.
As you continue your important work, I ask that you remain focused on the public safety priorities that the Department has identified – particularly drugs, school violence, and immigration enforcement. In the coming days, we’ll be announcing a second consecutive year of historic funding to tackle opioids and school safety. We plan to use this momentum to take on meth abuse in light of the opioid crisis, and to continue giving jurisdictions the tools and training they need to bolster school security. Your guidance on these issues is critical.
I was very glad to hear that a task team is continuing to look into the issue of meth and opioids, and I look forward to seeing the final white paper. My thanks to Sheriff McMahon for leading that team, and to Dr. Sharon Kelley for her assistance. Let me also thank Jim Burch for his work as chair of our new task team on school safety. I know his team’s work on identifying threat indicators will be invaluable to law enforcement.
Finally, I want to thank David Roberts for leading the Disposition Reporting Task Team.
I’ll leave you with this – this is something I say often to people – our attorney general is not one to dance around the edges of a problem. He prefers big solutions – which is a major reason why OJP is dedicating substantial resources to helping law enforcement fight crime, combat drugs, and take gun and gang criminals off the street. He knows that our success depends on our ability to collect, analyze, and share information. We stand ready to work with you to help you find the best way to do that.
We are grateful for everything you’re doing, and we look forward to hearing how we can move forward. Thank you.