CLEVELAND — U.S. Attorney General William Barr stopped in Cleveland to meet with local law enforcement leaders Thursday to brain storm about ways to stop the drugs and violent crime on Northeast Ohio streets.
Leaders from 12 agencies around Northeast Ohio were present for the discussion inside the Cleveland Police Department’s Third District building, which centered around drugs and violent crime.
"In too many places, it remains stubbornly high. As you know here in Cleveland it's four times the national average,” Barr said.
Barr spoke briefly about the challenges law enforcement faces dealing with illegal drugs and plans to help eliminate those challenges before the discussion was closed off to media. The group met behind closed doors for nearly an hour. Barr explained the agency plans to rely on task forces.
“We’re looking at ratcheting up our activities; expanding our task force operations in a number of cities that have high violent crime rates," Barr explained.
However, several key factors play a role in determining which cities will get more money and manpower, including the success of task forces already in place.
"They are going to look at what's the threat, what's out there. Obviously in Cleveland we face a heightened threat on the narcotics, drug threat front and violent crime. Any kind of consideration,” said U.S Attorney Justin Herdman.
Last year, the Department of Justice gave the go ahead for the Cleveland Strike force, which is a large scale task force operating out of one location with a laser focus on gangs, violent crime and drugs.
"The new strike force that’s going to be opening soon is really going to identify I think that it does take a network to defeat a network, and you are never going to see a stronger network in terms of law enforcement than you will right here," said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric Smith.
Barr stopped short of saying Cleveland would get more federal funding for fighting crime, but he and Herdman have discussed it privately.
"I don't think we're in a position to announce anything formally today but watch this space and stay tuned,” Herdman said.