INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new crime reduction committee Monday while meeting with an Indianapolis faith-based community group that has made some gains fighting violence in a city with rising crime.
Sessions dubbed the new initiative the Violent Crime Reduction Coordinating Committee. No concrete specifics were given on the tactics it will use.
The Monday meeting between Sessions and the Indianapolis-based Ten Point Coalition took place at Barnes United Methodist Church and lasted for more than an hour, with a portion taking place behind closed doors.
However, reporters were present for the attorney general’s opening remarks, where he expressed optimism for community-based crime reduction tactics.
“Proactive, community-based policing is what is required,” Sessions said. “Proactive, before the crime occurs. Community- based policing, where we focus on the individuals that many of you know to be most dangerous.”
The Ten Point Coalition is a faith-based community group that, according to its website, aims “to reduce violence and homicide through direct engagement, the promotion of education and the fostering of employment opportunities.”
While Indianapolis as a whole has experienced an uptick in violent crime, the coalition has made progress in three targeted neighborhoods, with the Butler-Tarkington community reaching 600 days without a homicide this summer.
The Ten Point Coalition was honored by the FBI last year when it received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award.
“You inspire young people to live out their God-given potential,” Sessions told the coalition Monday.
During the meeting, Sessions was seated next to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who thanked the U.S. attorney general for visiting.
Despite the warm welcome from meeting attendees, Sessions’ arrival in Indianapolis was not met with fully open arms.
Several of the city’s inner city ministers denounced the meeting, and expressed concern over the Sessions’ civil rights record.
"Sessions trying to come here and tell us he's going to help us in the black community is a farce," Galilee Baptist Church Pastor Fitzhugh Lyons said, according to WHTR of Indianapolis.
The animosity partly stems from perceived racist comments Sessions was accused of making during his time as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. Senators’ concerns over those comments cost Sessions a federal judgeship in 1986.
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Sessions as U.S. attorney general also sparked outrage, including protest from the NAACP. In addition, Sessions has received heavy criticism for his outspoken stance against efforts to legalize marijuana.
After the meeting, coalition members walked with Sessions around the surrounding neighborhood. In a brief press conference that took place outdoors, Ten Point leaders characterized their closed-door conversation with the attorney general as “extremely productive.”