PHOENIX — United States Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions spoke to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Litchfield Park west of Phoenix on Tuesday.
“I don’t think that the rising crime that we’ve seen and violent crime in the last year or two is just a blip,” said Sessions. “I’m afraid we’re facing a pretty serious thing.”
Federal prisons have been reducing their populations by changing sentencing guidelines, and other changes from the Department of Justice and courts, he said.
“So our crowd is saying, the geniuses out there, ‘Well, we’ve had this long decrease in crime and now you want to lock more people up,’” he said.
“I’m saying I’m getting worried we’re not locking more people up.”
Most states have followed the federal lead, some facing budget crises, Sessions said.
“I’m worried that we could be at a trend in which the threat of rising crime we do not need to allow happen,” he said.
Drugs. Crime. Disorder. They’re all dangerous, he said. And then we’re adding additional pressure on our police.
“And almost sort of a demoralization of the fabric of law enforcement and law and order,” he said. “And really an undermining of the respect we owe our law officers who walk these streets every day.”
Sessions said his first priority is officer safety promoting officer morale. Secondly, Sessions said his office will ensure law enforcement protects and respects the civil rights of all.
Sessions said he disagrees with the previous DOJ’s intervention in cities like Chicago and Baltimore after public outcry over police incidents in those cities. He said his office will respect local control and local authority of the nation’s law enforcement departments, which is needed for effective policing.
“The Department of Justice, we will not allow the misdeeds of a few bad actors to impugn or undermine the legitimate work of law enforcement,” he said.
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