U.S. Attorney General William Barr pledged Wednesday to expand partnerships with Kansas law enforcement agencies to combat violent crime and respond to the transition of drug-trafficking organizations into rural areas of the country.

The attorney general was introduced to a state crime laboratory and military cybersecurity center in Topeka before visiting Wichita for a second discussion with city, county and state officers on needs of law enforcement. He took no questions in Topeka from reporters, and didn't address controversy swirling around the administration of President Donald Trump regarding an impeachment inquiry.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, the Kansas Republican who invited Barr to Kansas, said it was "discouraging" House Democrats' intense focus on investigation of the Trump administration would distract Congress from other business and delay consideration of bills needed to fund government. Moran chairs a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Justice's budget.

"The march for impeachment has been ongoing for a long time. Almost since the election of the president," Moran said. "It is a circumstance in which doing the things that are necessary become more difficult. The country clearly needs us working together, and impeachment is an impediment toward that happening."

"I wish this wasn't what we were facing. My view is that the American people chose a president. What used to happen, and I wish would return, is we would spend the next four years working with that administration, working with that president. There's an election that occurs and if you have a different opinion about who should be president, that's resolved at the next election. That's been intruded on by a continual effort by some Democrats in the House to keep impeachment at the top of the list," the senator said. 

In addition, Moran said he had "no complaints" about the U.S. attorney general's job performance. 

In brief public remarks before a closed meeting with more than a dozen law enforcement leaders in Topeka, Barr said he sought to concentrate on suppressing violent crime and more aggressively intervening in places where criminal conduct was escalating. He said much of the Justice Department's efforts centered on major cities, but "I'm also interested in addressing challenges in rural areas." 

Moran said he was convinced law enforcement in a rural state such as Kansas worked best with significant cooperation among local officials and federal personnel in the FBI, DEA, ATF and Marshal's Service.

Congressional scrutiny of the Trump administration escalated following disclosure of a conversation the president had in July with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky about helping with an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman, was reportedly listening to that call and has been drawn into the House's inquiry.

Barr reportedly traveled overseas to enlist assistance with investigations that could result in modification of the U.S. intelligence community's assessment in 2017 that Russians engaged in election tampering. In addition, Trump apparently told Zelensky to work with Barr in the future.

The attorney general took in the relatively new Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lab and the cybersecurity center operated by the Kansas adjutant general. He was to be briefed on development with Wichita State University of a lab devoted to firearm and ammunition analysis, Moran said.

Moran said his discussions with local law enforcement officers in Kansas revealed the need for more personnel and resources to better respond to illegal drug use and crimes inspired by addictive behavior. He said much had been legitimately made about opioid abuse in Kansas, but methamphetamines remained a massive challenge for communities across the state.

He said a pending bill in Congress would appropriate a 3% increase in federal aid to the FBI, Bureau of Prisons, ATF and offices of federal prosecutors, with a portion trickling down to local levels.

Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn, who was part of the group that met with Barr in Topeka, said in an interview the federal government should do better at distributing grants to smaller units of law enforcement. Too often, she said, resources flow more readily to large jurisdictions.

"We always could use more resources, especially people," said Capt. Adam Heffley, a 19-year veteran of the Lawrence Police Department. He said salary compression, a wave of officer retirements and difficult marketing careers in law enforcement to potential recruits made it difficult to fill vacancies.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig said public respect for law enforcement officers and the willingness of people to be law-abiding citizens had diminished during the past 20 years.

"We're going to have to get some respect back in law enforcement," Herrig said.