U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein addressed a Utah conference Wednesday on the Trump administration’s multi-front fight against violent crime and terror.
Rosenstein gave the keynote at the 10th annual National Security and Anti-Terrorism Conference in downtown Salt Lake.
The conference brings together nearly 600 local, state and federal law enforcement agents each year for speeches by intelligence officials and experts on trends in the industry.
Rosenstein told the crowd that President Trump and the entire Department of Justice stands behind law enforcement and appreciates the work they do, even if critics don’t.
“You face unprecedented scrutiny,” he said. “Many critics do not understand the challenges you face on a daily basis.”
Rosenstein said the DOJ under Trump has prioritized combating violent crimes and drugs — specifically the opioid epidemic affecting states like Utah.
He said extremism, both domestic and foreign, was another top concern, citing the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., fueled by white supremacists.
"The First Amendment often protects hateful speech even when it is abhorrent to American values, but there can be no safe harbor for violence," he said.
On a more positive trend, he said the number of Americans trying to join ISIS had fallen from between six to 10 individuals per month to virtually none.
Rosenstein is the number two official at the Department of Justice, just under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He’s also been in the periphery of some of the Trump administration’s more controversial moves, such as the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
About seven U.S. attorneys attended the conference, including the District of Utah’s John Huber, who was reappointed by President Trump after serving two years under President Obama.
In a press conference later in the day, Huber said his office is also prioritizing beating back violent crime increases, which he said had grown by 13 percent in the state.
“We do not want to give up the hard fought ground that covers and spans multiple administrations of both parties,” he said. “That is my priority.”
Huber said his prosecutors are refocusing their efforts on going after narcotics trafficking, gang crime and gun crime.