Resist Operation Relentless Pursuit Cleveland
What is Operation Relentless Pursuit
Operation Relentless Pursuit (ORP) is a special project launched in December 2019 by Attorney General Bill Barr at the Department of Justice. The program is funneling Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) money into seven police departments nationwide.
· ORP will “surge federal law enforcement resources” to combat violent crime in seven U.S. cities: Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee.
· The program commits to spending up to $71 million in those cities, primarily through federal grants for hiring more police officers. In May 2020, the DOJ announced $61 million in grant funding, which will provide for 214 new police officers to be hired in the seven target cities.
· In addition to hiring more police officers and federal law enforcement agents, ORP funding will be used to grow the staff at prosecutor’s offices and purchase “mission-critical equipment and technology.”
· A major goal of ORP is to increase federal criminal prosecutions in those cities. Police Departments that receive funding through ORP must work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute certain federal crimes, such as drug trafficking and gang involvement.
· ORP is also establishing state and local task forces, staffed by law enforcement officers, which seek to address violent crime.
· Funding is deployed through the DOJ’s COPS Office and the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance.
KEY ISSUES AND WHY RESIST
· These dollars are unnecessary and counterproductive: Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that community-based investments, not the criminal-legal system, is most effective at keeping people safe. Furthermore, in many cases, policing and incarceration actually undermines public safety.
· ORP replicates the most devastating aspects of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (the “1994 Crime Bill”), which flooded America’s streets with cops and dramatically increased incarceration rates, especially in Black and Brown communities, without having a meaningful impact on public safety. The time has come to turn a new page, not revert to a policy that failed substantively and devastated so many communities of color.
· This program grows police forces and resources in seven cities that are already over-policed and over-incarcerated. Given the mounting calls to divest and defund, cities must find ways to reduce their police departments’ scope and employ non-carceral strategies for improving public safety.
· OPR further militarizes the police and provides law enforcement with additional dangerous tools and technology that they can use against the community—including to suppress protests and peaceful demonstrations.