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'Operation Relentless Pursuit' aims to reduce crime in several U.S. cities, including Cleveland

Posted at 2:26 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 23:35:15-05

CLEVELAND — Millions of dollars could be on the way to help fight violent crime here in Northeast Ohio. U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday that Cleveland is one of the U.S. cities that will be part of “Operation Relentless Pursuit.”

The program targets crime in some of the most violent cities in America. Cleveland is one of seven cities in line for more federal agents and more police on the streets.

Cleveland was singled out by Barr in the live announcement for the program because of the city’s murder rate: 4.5 times the national average, according to Barr. That makes it the sixth most violent city in America, according to the nation’s top cop.

The program was announced Wednesday in Detroit. It means a surge of agents from an alphabet soup of federal agencies will move into the seven selected cities. Their goal will be targeting violent criminals.

"These teams working with Cleveland police and our other state and local partners will be targeting the most violent and persistent offenders in our city," said US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman.

Operation Relentless Pursuit also means $71 million in funding for police, primarily in two areas: building up task forces and putting new officers on the streets.

“This could provide an additional 400 police officers nationwide allocated among these seven cities, as well as help pay the task forces, either pay them or pay their overtime to facilitate the creation of additional task forces,” Barr said.

Cleveland will compete with Detroit, Memphis, Baltimore, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Albuquerque for the funding.

"All of it, I'm serious, we're going to ask for all of it we can possibly get," said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams.

The special agent In charge of Cleveland's FBI office predicted Relentless Pursuit could be the most impactful program Northeast Ohio has seen in years.

"We think with the combined effects and resources of all of us, that we will make great strides in combating the scourge of violent crime in this region," said Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith.

While he wouldn't reveal specifics about operations planned across the region, Herdman had this warning.

"If you're wanted, it's a good time to turn yourself in," he said. "If you're committing violent crimes, this would be an excellent time to stop. And if either of those two things don't happen, you are going to be found in 2020. That's what we've committed to doing."