AG Jeff Sessions Lays Out Priorities To Optimistic Police Groups

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

MAR 15 2017, 6:17 AM ET

AG Jeff Sessions Lays Out Priorities to Optimistic Police Groups

In five weeks as attorney general, Jeff Sessions has taken fire for his testimony about past meetings with Russia’s ambassador and been criticized for the abrupt removal of dozens of politically appointed U.S. attorneys around the country.

But Sessions is getting a much warmer welcome among the nation’s law enforcement community, which has largely embraced his plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases, crack down on immigration offenses and ease up on suing local police departments accused of violating minorities’ civil rights.

Sessions will further explain his plans to realign the Justice Department’s priorities on Wednesday, when he addresses a gathering of federal, state and local law enforcement officers in Richmond, Virginia. He can expect an enthusiastic response.

“Happily for us, on vast majority of issues, we’re on the same page,” said James Pasco, a senior adviser at the Fraternal Order of Police.

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FEB. 28: Sessions: ‘We Don’t Need To Be Legalizing Marijuana’ 1:15

The Justice Department wouldn’t comment on what Sessions will say in Richmond. But a spokesman said his remarks will expand on a number of his recent actions, including a memo ordering a crackdown on violent crime and a speech that warned that a recent uptick in crime was “the beginning of a trend” that requires a “return to the ideas” that cut lawbreaking to historic lows since the 1990s.

Related: AG Sessions Says DOJ to ‘Pull Back’ on Police Department Civil Rights Suits

In that Feb. 28 speech to state attorneys general, Sessions blamed Mexican drug cartels for a record spike in heroin overdoses and suggested that he would reverse Obama administration policies that sought to reduce the prosecutions of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders on charges that carried mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Sessions said in the speech that from 2010 to 2015, the number of gun and drug prosecutions had dropped. “This trend will end,” he said.

Sessions, a Republican former U.S. senator and federal prosecutor from Alabama, also signaled a new approach toward police departments accused of discriminatory policing. He said that rather than “spending scarce federal resources to sue them in court,” federal money would be better used going after criminals.

Related: Trump Orders Crackdown on Drug Trafficking and Anti-Cop Violence

Michael Ramos, president of the National District Attorneys Association, said it was refreshing to hear Sessions promise to “get back to tough-on-crime.”

The Obama administration, Ramos said, went too far in seeking ways to reduce mandatory minimum sentences and get people out of prison. That lenience, he said, could be driving crime rates.

“We’ve gotten to a point where the pendulum is starting to swing back,” Ramos said.

Lawrence Leiser, vice president for policy at the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, said his organization opposed easing up on mandatory minimum sentencing and welcomed a return to earlier approaches.

He said he viewed Sessions’ take on law enforcement as “inspiring.”

Image: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference in Washington
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on March 2, 2017. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

“Assistant U.S. attorneys are encouraged by the attorney general’s approach to combating drug trafficking and violent crime by using all of the lawful tools that are currently available to prosecutors,” Leiser said.

Related: Trump Administration Tells Remaining U.S. Attorneys to Resign

That said, law enforcement officials cautioned that the Trump administration is only a couple months old, and Sessions had yet to articulate how the new priorities would be put in place.

Ronal Serpas, a former police superintendent in New Orleans and chairman of the group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, said he embraced Sessions’ focus on violent crime. But his group has also warned the administration against using jail and prison as the tools to attack crime more broadly.

Many nonviolent, first time offenders, particularly those suffering from mental illness or drug addiction, would be better served by alternatives, the group said in a set of recommendations for the new administration.

The group also urged Sessions to rethink his opposition to sentencing reform.

And it warned against rumored cuts to the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

“I’d like to see the attorney general focus narrowly on the issue of violent gun and drug crime and not get distracted by the big sweeping arrests we had in the 1990s,” Serpas said. “I argued for those things back then. But I saw that those massive arrest strategies don’t work. There’s tremendous collateral damage.”

Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said he was encouraged by the mere fact that Sessions was speaking directly to local law enforcement agencies so early in his tenure.

That’s important to many police officials who saw the Obama administration as being too critical of police during a time of eroding trust between cops and the public, he said. Much of those problems have been driven by increased scrutiny of shootings by police and an uptick in attacks on officers.

“We’re just trying to get off on the right foot and help influence things in a direction where the big cities around this country are providing the best service we can,” Manger said.

The Shooting Of Unarmed People Is Murder Period: This Includes Police Shootings

 

This morning in the Cleveland Ohio news we are being told that six Police Officers have been fired, one other retired early, and another six Officers have been suspended for anywhere from 21 to 30 days for murdering two people. Back in November of 2012 in the city of Cleveland an old Chevy Malibu backfired near a police station. One of the Officers that was outside thought it sounded like a gun shot so he and many of his buddies took off after a car that they thought the shot had come from. To make a long story short they were wrong, there was no gun shot and the two people in the car (one man, one woman) had no firearms at all. This mornings we are told that approximately  100 Police cars chased this couple for about 20 miles into another jurisdiction where they were able to get the car stopped (bullets stopped it). Once the Officers got the car stopped Officers shot through the windshield 137 rounds, 24 struck and killed the man, 23 struck and killed the woman. Unless you see a person banishing a firearm and that firearm is being pointed at you then you (any Cop anywhere) have no right to ever shoot to kill anyone, if you do, it is murder! Cops must be treated with the same laws they use to make their decisions. You know very well that all those bullets were taken out of these two people’s corpses and that they were matched up against the different Officers weapons. The Officers who started this chase and the Officers whom fired and hit these two innocent unarmed people must be tried for first degree murder. Here in America we have to many macho mental midget’s with a badge and a gun and that isn’t even counting all the cowards with a badge and a gun and there are many, many, many of these felons wearing blue and the American people know it, this is why you are not at all trusted. Murder is murder, no matter what your job description is. You know how we are told that if we are having trouble while we are out and about that we are supposed to find a Cop or to drive to the nearest Police Station? What was this couple suppose to do when it is the Cops whom are chasing and shooting at you, do you stop and make it an easy target for them?

 

If Police Departments in  America want the vast majority of the public to be on their side then the profession MUST clean up its own act. There are two things that would be very helpful in this regard. 1) Officers must be held totally accountable for their actions, they are supposed to be public servants, not executioners. 2) Officers need to always be friendly whenever possible and they must act like grownups, not mouthy arrogant punks with a gun. So I ask you Officers, please perform your duties with honor, then you will see many more of us civilians whom want very badly to support you. For these things to happen all Policing Agencies personnel must perform their duties honorably and they MUST arrest their fellow Officers when they break the same laws you arrest the people for. Integrity of the Law, learn what it is, and then follow it. That is if you ever want the public to be on your side, right now anytime you ever meet an Officer for any reason the public knows that their life hangs in the balance. It is up to all Policing Agencies to correct their own flaws, no one else can do it for you.

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