Tags: sessions | crime | trend

Sessions Cites 'Dangerous' Crime Wave to Justify Tough Approach

Image: Sessions Cites 'Dangerous' Crime Wave to Justify Tough Approach

(Reuters)

Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017 09:39 AM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is warning the U.S. faces "a dangerous new trend" in crime that he said requires stepped-up support for law enforcement agencies and robust prosecution of criminals.

Maintaining that crime rates are ticking up — even as he acknowledged that they remain near historic lows across much of the U.S. — Sessions said Tuesday that one of his top priorities will be "to reverse this rise in violent crime and keep our citizens safe.”

"My worry is that this is not a blip or an anomaly, but the start of a dangerous new trend that could reverse the hard-won gains of the past four decades," Sessions said in prepared remarks for a conference of state attorneys general meeting in Washington.

Sessions used his first public speech since he was sworn in this month as the nation’s top law enforcement official to justify the aggressive approach to policing and prosecution that were hallmarks of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In contrast to some statements made by Trump, Sessions acknowledged that “murder rates are half of what they were in 1980,” and “the rate of violent crime has fallen by almost half from its peak in the early 1990s."

Although Trump has railed against conditions in America’s inner cities, Sessions said "many neighborhoods that were once in the grip of gangs and drugs and violence are now vibrant places, where kids can play in the park and parents can enjoy a walk after sunset without fear."

'Unfairly Maligned’

Still, the attorney general blamed an uptick in crime on drug gangs fighting for territory and customers and fewer federal gun prosecutions. In a rejection of the Obama administration’s pursuit of cases of alleged police misconduct, Sessions cited the "age of viral videos" that he said is making police "more reluctant to get out of their squad cars and do the hard but necessary work of up-close policing.

"Unfortunately, in recent years, law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the unacceptable deeds of a few bad actors," Sessions said. "Our officers, deputies and troopers believe the political leadership of this country abandoned them.

"Rather than dictating to local police how to do their jobs — or spending scarce federal resources to sue them in court — we should use our money, research, and expertise to help them figure out what is happening and determine the best ways to fight crime," Sessions said.

One-Year Increase

He said the latest official FBI data “tell us that from 2014 to 2015, the violent-crime rate in the U.S. increased by more than 3 percent — the largest one-year increase since 1991." He said “the murder rate increased 11 percent — the largest increase since 1968."

Preliminary FBI data for the first half of 2016 confirm the increase is becoming a trend, he said.

Sessions announced that he’s creating a task force comprised of the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The task force, which will be headed by the deputy attorney general, aims to help carry out an executive order issued by Trump on reducing crime and restoring public safety, Sessions said.

It will examine deficiencies in current laws and propose new legislation, make sure agencies are collecting good crime data, and consult with law enforcement at all levels, as well as victims’ groups and community groups, Sessions said.

 

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is warning the U.S. faces a dangerous new trend in crime that he said requires stepped-up support for law enforcement agencies and robust prosecution of criminals. Maintaining that crime rates are ticking up - even as he acknowledged...
sessions, crime, trend
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2017-39-28
Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017 09:39 AM
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