Sessions: 'If You Want Crime to Go Up,' Let 'ACLU Run the Police Department'
Attorney General Jeff Sessions slammed civil libertarians in an address to law enforcement today, telling cops and instructors at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., that "if you want crime to go up, it's easy: just let special interests like the ACLU run the police department."
With an audience that included trainees from the FBI, DHS, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals, and ATF, Sessions called it "a monumental societal event" when the violent crime rate fell from 1991 to 2014.
"Maybe some people started to take this achievement for granted. Some started to treat criminals like victims, and you like criminals," he said. "But not this Department of Justice. We know whose side we're on. We're on the side of the good people, public safety, law, faith, and community. We defend our people and our values against outlaws."
Sessions called the nearly 7 percent increase in violent crimes from 2014 to 2016 "shocking."
"Some people seem to think that crime rates are like the tides-that they just go up and down and there's nothing we can do about it. They think that rising crime is nothing to worry about -- no big deal," he said. "Some politicians seem to think we have more control over the global climate than over the local crime rate. But the professionals in this room know that's wrong."
The attorney general brought up a University of Utah study that linked a spike in Chicago homicides to a decline in stop-and-frisk practices; the researchers called it the "ACLU effect."
"I am sure that this does not surprise you experienced professionals," Sessions added."...If you want public safety, call the professionals."
The Chicago Police Department entered an agreement in 2015 to limit their use of stop-and-frisk to reasonable suspicion, after an ACLU of Illinois report that found the practice unconstitutional in circumstances without reasonable cause and ineffective in fighting crime.
The ACLU said of the Utah study, "While the report accurately states the reduced number of stop-and-frisk encounters and the spike in murders in 2016, it provides no causal link between the two events."
"Policing affects crime rates and support for police affects policing. It is our partnership with our brothers and sisters in Blue - as we carry out proven policies - that reduce crime. Public respect for our officers affects cooperation with the community-and it enables the kind of pro-active policing that has been shown time and again to work," Sessions continued. "In January 2017, a survey from Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of the police officers they talked to said that they were less willing to stop and question suspicious persons than they were just a few years before. Ninety-three percent said that their colleagues worried more about their safety than a few years before. These numbers are troubling, too."
Sessions vowed to "always seek to affirm the critical role of police officers in our society and we will not participate in anything that would give comfort to criminals or radicals who promote agendas that preach hostility rather than respect for police."
"Of course, we will continue to hold accountable any officer who violates the law and undermines the good work of our police. But we will not malign entire police departments," he said, adding that he believes "we're doing something right" because recent polling shows "more and more of our young people want to go into law enforcement."
"I have been hearing law enforcement leaders express grave concerns about recruitment, but maybe we have turned the corner," Sessions said.