U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

Fraternal Order of Police Post-Conference Board Meeting
New Orleans, LA
August 5, 2005

Thank you, Chuck. I appreciate that introduction.

It's good to be here in New Orleans. I can't believe it's cooler here than in D.C. I grew up in Bude, Mississippi, just a couple of hours north of here, so this is my neck of the woods. I'm glad to be back.

I'm also glad to be among friends. The FOP has been a true ally of the Bush Administration, and I want to thank you for all the support you've given the President in his efforts to fight crime and to protect America's communities.

I want to take the opportunity to say a special word of thanks to Chuck for his hard work as a member of the Medal of Valor review board. And to the Grand Lodge, especially my good friend Jim Pasco, for ensuring that I was confirmed in time to participate. It means a great deal to know that one of OJP's most important stakeholders was supportive of my confirmation.

Speaking of Chuck, let me congratulate him on his re-election. I know I speak for all of OJP and the Department when I say that it was well-deserved. Chuck, we look forward to continuing to work with you on the issues affecting law enforcement.

Finally, my great thanks to all of you for the tremendous work you do on behalf of public safety. Keeping our citizens safe has never been an easy job, and it certainly isn't getting any easier, not with the added demands of homeland security. We're asking more and more of our law enforcement officers these days, and you continue to come through for us each and every day.

I want to thank you for your service, and for the brave and selfless way in which you rise to the challenges of your calling. You truly make America proud.

As some of you know, I came to the Office of Justice Programs just a couple of months ago. Before being appointed Assistant Attorney General, I served as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and White House Liaison at the Department of Health and Human Services.

My tenure there confirmed what I already believed-namely, that the best thing the federal government can do for communities is to be their partner. The President often tells his audiences that solutions to problems come from the people who are closest to those problems. And no one is closer to the problems of a community than a law enforcement officer.

I take the idea of partnerships very seriously. A partnership to me means keeping the lines of communication open and acting according to mutual, not self, interest. It also means looking to one another for guidance and perspective. I'm prepared to do all these things with you, and I hope I can depend on you to do the same.

During my confirmation hearings, I had a chance to outline my priorities as Assistant Attorney General. One of the highest is strengthening OJP's relationship with law enforcement.

OJP boasts a long history of working with law enforcement. Indeed, when it was established in the 1960s, it was known as the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, and its very purpose was to help law enforcement officers combat the rise in urban crime that occurred at the time.

OJP's role has expanded significantly since then, but supporting law enforcement has always been a vital part of its mission. My goal is to make OJP even more directly responsive to the needs of law enforcement agencies and officers.

Through initiatives like Project Safe Neighborhoods and his Anti-Gang Coordination Committee, the Attorney General is looking to local law enforcement for help in designing strategies to fight crime. As he has said, we "rely on local information and local partners to fight local crime."

I want to build on that and to make sure he is kept informed of all the issues facing you in your work each day. I'd like to be a liaison between you and the Department of Justice. I believe that no agency is better placed than ours to be a voice for law enforcement, and I intend to be your voice every day.

The President and the Attorney General have established certain clear goals for combating crime and violence. Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, reducing and preventing gun crime has been, and will continue to be, a top priority.

We are stepping up our efforts to stem the tide of drugs, particularly the proliferation of meth and meth labs.

We are marshalling our resources to fight the scourge of gangs and gang violence. This is part of an even larger Administration effort to give our youth healthy alternatives to gang involvement and crime.

And, of course, we continue to work with law enforcement to help meet the threat of terrorism.

The President's budget proposes making more than $1.5 billion in Justice Department funding available to state and local agencies to fight crime.

Yes, the budget request does reflect reductions and elimination of some programs, but the investments we propose target specific and serious threats and represent a continued commitment of federal dollars to state and local programming.

The expertise I bring to my job lies in the effective management of resources. The people who've worked for me in the past learned, sometimes the hard way, that I don't tolerate waste. And I won't tolerate it at OJP. Making sure that our resources are wisely allocated and accessible is how I will serve you.

I believe that close coordination and consultation are the key to effective crime fighting, especially when so many issues compete for our attention. Rest assured that I will use my position as Assistant Attorney General to see that your issues are addressed and your needs met.

I appreciate your time, and I look forward to our work together on behalf of the safety of America's communities.

Thank you.

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