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Feds move in on local police forces...

Feds move in on local police forces...

 President Barack Obama, with Chuck Canterbury, president, Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, arrives at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, an annual ceremony honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in the previous year, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. May 15, 2012.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

by Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Mounting concern over recent violent crime surges in some U.S. cities has prompted the Justice Department to call a meeting next month of more than a dozen local law enforcement officials to deal with persistent public safety threats, ranging from criminal gangs to domestic violence, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told USA TODAY in an interview.

The Justice summit builds on an increasing federal re-engagement with local police whose forces in the past two years have been buffeted by questions over lethal force policies and flagging public trust.

Earlier this year, in the face of rising tensions between the police and the public in communities across the nation, a special White House policing task force issued a slate of recommendations aimed at restoring public confidence. The Justice Department also has opened inquiries into the operations of more than 20 police departments across the country since 2009, including earlier this year in Baltimore where days of civil unrest was sparked by the death of a local man in police custody.

Although violent crime has been in decline in much of the country for years, federal authorities are re-committing resources, some of which were directed to address anti-terror concerns in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, to battle troubling spikes in local crime.

Yates on Monday is set to identify five cities—Compton, Calif., Little Rock, Ark., West Memphis, Ark., Newark, N.J., and Flint, Mich.— which are poised to get an infusion of federal help to battle violence even as most of the country has enjoyed relative calm.

"Every community is different and every community has their own unique challenges,'' Yates said. "For us to be most effective, we really need to be digging in at the local level… to fashion our response. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of solution.''

The five cities represent the first expansion of the so-called Violence Reduction Network, launched last year by the Justice Department to address similar violent crime problems in Chicago, Detroit, Wilmington, Del., Camden, N.J., and in the Oakland-Richmond, Calif., area.

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