Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Statement for Hearing on "Reimagining Public Safety in the COVID-19 Era"

Washington, March 8, 2022

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement during a Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on "Reimagining Public Safety in the COVID-19 Era:"

"Thank you, Madam Chair, for holding this very important hearing on public safety. As the epidemic of gun violence continues to impact our cities and communities, I look forward to discussing how the Federal government can more effectively assist state and local leaders to address violent crime and invest in community safety. 

"I am also grateful to have a large panel of expert witnesses who can tell us what is truly driving the current increase in violent crime that many cities are reporting.  Our witnesses can also inform this Committee on effective strategies to reduce gun violence and other violent crime, and how the federal government can best support and enhance local initiatives to improve public safety. 

"After years of crime rates continuing to fall, 2020 and 2021 saw significant increases in certain types of crime, specifically homicides and other gun crimes. While homicide rates remain well below historic peaks in the 1990s, according to research from the Council on Criminal Justice, the number of homicides in 2021, in the 27 major cities studied, increased by 5% from 2020 and by 44% from 2019.

"This increase in violent crime coincides with the economic and social upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as stay-at-home orders impacted all areas of American life, the stress of the pandemic, as well as the closure of many diversions from conflict, including after-school programs and violence interrupter initiatives, has resulted in increased instability and the need to improve public safety. 

"Violent crime is an issue that affects every community, and we need community-driven responses to address it.  We know that law enforcement alone cannot solve the problem of violent crime, and ensuring public safety requires both effective law enforcement practices and investment in community resources and support systems.

"2021 also saw a record number of individuals shot and killed by law enforcement officers. This deeply troubling statistic emphasizes that there continues to be a need for law enforcement accountability and changes to policing. We know that this need for reform is not at odds with the need to address the rise in violence. Without accountability, communities lack trust in law enforcement and officers are unable to do their jobs effectively.

"The confluence of the pandemic’s impact on crime and the public outcry for changes to policing in cities across the country demonstrates the need for a re-examination of national policy on public safety and the role of the Federal government in program development.

"I thank the Chair for holding this important hearing and I look forward to discussing these and other issues with our panel today."