14:20, February 28 460 0 abajournal.com

2017-02-28 14:20:06
DOJ reports on unconstitutional policing are ‘pretty anecdotal,’ attorney general says

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said he hadn’t read the full Justice Department reports on unconstitutional police practices in Ferguson, Missouri, and Chicago, but the summaries were “pretty anecdotal, and not so scientifically based.”

Sessions talked about making the fight against violent crime a priority in a briefing with reporters on Monday and in a speech on Tuesday to the National Association of Attorneys General, report the Washington Post, NPR, the Huffington Post, and the Associated Press in stories here and here.

Sessions said police are “front-line soldiers” in a mission to protect the public and he was concerned about a lack of morale. He said he hadn’t decided whether he would negotiate a consent decree of policing practices in Chicago. Though Chicago officials have reached an agreement in principle with the Justice Department, the consent decree has not been negotiated.

Police shouldn’t become overconfident, Sessions said on Tuesday, just because the nation’s overall violent crime rates are at historic lows. He noted that murders have increased nearly 11 percent since 2014, and said he did not “not believe that this pop in crime, this increase in crime is necessarily an aberration, a one-time blip.”

“We are diminished as a nation when any of our citizens fear for their life when they leave their home; or when terrified parents put their children to sleep in bathtubs to keep them safe from stray bullets; or when entire neighborhoods are at the mercy of drug dealers, gangs and other violent criminals,” Sessions said in prepared remarks.

Sessions also said he didn’t support state legalization of marijuana, but he would take another look at guidance from former Deputy Attorney General James Cole on the federal response. Cole had said the matter should be left to local police in states with robust regulatory systems, but the federal government should step in when states don’t have such systems, according to the Washington Post.

“I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store,” Sessions said. “We’ll have to work our way through that.”

Hat tip to the Marshall Project.