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EXCLUSIVE: US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams Opens Up About Federal Efforts Being Made On Philly's Record Crime

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Eyewitness News sat down with U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams on Tuesday. Williams spoke about the latest in the federal efforts being made locally as Philadelphia continues to battle record crime for 2021.

Williams is only the second woman to hold this position in history. Her mission, in her words, is to hold those responsible for crimes to the fullest extent of the law. This, as she tries to bridge the gap among many city leaders.

"You just have to be willing to put agendas aside and personalities aside and do the work," Williams said.

Williams began her career fighting terrorism. She was working in Manhattan on 9/11 and helped prosecute Jihad Jane, the Montgomery County woman convicted of providing support to extremists. She says it taught her how to break down communication rifts, including those reported among Philly's top crime leaders, and proudly describes herself as apolitical.

"I, therefore, speak regularly with all of the law enforcement leaders in the area," Williams said.

More recently, Williams was center stage in the federal bribery trial of former union boss John Dougherty and Councilmember Bobby Henon.

On Tuesday, as word of federal support surfaced following a spree of gunpoint robberies, Williams said, "We are in an absolute gun violence crisis."

Williams, who can't officially comment, did say this

"When we can get stronger penalties, when we can put more resources on the investigation or prosecute more people, including people out of state as part of part of one scheme, then it's often a great advantage to have us investigate and prosecute the case," Williams said.

Since taking office in January, she launched a tip line to report suspicious behavior along with a 16-agency #AllHandsOnDeck partnership to better share information. The goal is to prevent crime before it happens.

"I don't like that we have an epidemic of lost hope as well," Williams said. "People seem to think that we've given up and the opposite is true."

Now this mom of four, who got emotional when speaking about the mothers and families suffering the trauma of gun violence, wants to assure Philadelphians and those who come to the city for work and tourism that even though they may not see her every day, she hears the fears of so many and isn't deterred in her mission of public safety.

"My heart breaks with you," Williams said "I want people to be able to play outside and live happy carefree lives. That's my goal."

Williams is also a big proponent of encouraging young women to serve. CBS3 asked her how she handles criticism as she's pursued high-profile cases. She says you have to trust your gut and always stand on the side of what is right above all else.

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