Tuesday, January 9, 2024

'Deeply disturbing spike' in threats against government workers

Federal law enforcement has recorded a “deeply disturbing spike” in threats against government workers and public servants in recent months, Attorney General Merrick Garland told the Washington Post.

This week alone, officials are investigating bomb threats that forced evacuations at several courthouses and state capitols across the country. The attorney general said federal officials also arrested and charged a man for threatening to kill a congressman and his children.

 “This is just a small snapshot of a larger trend that has included threats of violence against those who administer elections, ensure our safe travel, teach our children, report the news, represent their constituents and keep our communities safe,” Garland said. “These threats of violence are unacceptable. They threaten our fabric of democracy.”

Garland made the comments ahead of a private meeting with law enforcement officials at Justice Department headquarters to discuss violent crime. The attorney general said officials would be discussing how best to “double down” on efforts to fight the rise in threats against government workers.

While threats are increasing, Garland said, homicide numbers across the country have declined. From 2021 to 2022, homicides dropped 6 percent. The attorney general also cited numbers from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which reported a “double-digit decrease” in murders in 69 major cities between much of 2022 and 2023.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told reporters that officials in Baltimore said homicides had dropped by more than 20 percent this past year. And Detroit recorded the fewest homicides last year since 1966 — along with double-digit reductions in shootings and carjackings, city officials said.

But the officials noted that not every jurisdiction has seen this decline in homicide rates. In D.C., for example, 2023 marked the city’s deadliest year in more than two decades. Garland said Friday’s meeting would cover which violent crime initiatives are working and which aren’t — and how best to apply the effective tactics in places such as D.C.

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