ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (CN) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a law enforcement conference in south Alabama on Friday that “violent crime is back with a vengeance.”
“After decreasing for nearly 20 years because of the hard but necessary work our country started in the 1980s … the murder rate surged nearly 11 percent nationwide in 2015 – the largest increase since 1968. Per capita homicide rates are up in 27 of our 35 largest cities,” Sessions said.
According to attorney general, the keynote speaker for this year’s Alabama Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee conference, an event held at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Ala., the statistics are a troubling sign.
“My best judgment is that, unfortunately, this is not a blip,” he said. “I’m concerned that this might be a reversal of the progress we worked so hard to achieve, and we cannot accept that. We must fight back before this trend can grow.”
Sessions reassured those in attendance that the Trump administration has their backs in the fight against crime, citing a number of policy changes that are “already seeing results.”
Sessions said that the Justice Department has directed federal prosecutors to “once again charge defendants with the most serious offense they can prove.”
“This is a return to a longstanding, common sense policy,” he said. “A policy that I believe Americans would expect of our prosecutors. It’s the same standard I used as a prosecutor in Mobile.”
He also indicated a renewed commitment to fighting illegal guns.
“This is so important and goes to the heart of violent crime,” Sessions said. “Since I issued that order, we have seen a 23 percent increase in the number of defendants charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Fewer illegal guns in the hands of criminals means safer streets for you to patrol.”
Sessions, who previously served as U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Alabama, also reminded attendees of the administration’s new policy concerning the use of surplus military supplies.
“Earlier this week, the President issued an executive order that will make it easier to protect yourselves and those you serve. This order rescinded restrictions from the last administration that limited your ability to use federal programs to get life-saving equipment like Kevlar vests and helmets and first responder and rescue equipment,” Sessions said.
The 30th annual LECC conference was sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern, Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama.