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Jeff Sessions: Low Police Morale, Low Gun Prosecutions Fuel Chicago Crime

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 10, 2017 9:30PM

Jeff Sessions / Getty Images / Photo: Chip Somodevilla

When the topic of violent crime in cities like Chicago and Baltimore was raised at Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings for the office of Attorney General, the senator from Alabama offered a two-prong solution: an increase in prosecution of gun crimes and—in a turn that would make former Chicago top cop Garry McCarthy smile—boost police morale.

Echoing the refrain that arrests are down and crime is up due to diminished police morale in the face of criticism, Sessions told a Senate panel that police departments at large have been “unfairly” tarnished for “unacceptable actions of a few bad actors,” the Sun-Times quotes the former Alabama state Attorney General as saying.

“They feel they’ve been targeted. Morale has suffered,” Sessions said.

"I can feel in my bones about how it was going to play out in the world when we had, what I thought, often times, was legitimate criticism of what was perhaps wrongdoing of an officer, but spilling over into condemnation of our entire police force.” Sessions said, according to The Stranger.

McCarthy recently made similar comments, with a more inflammatory flavor, claiming “anti-police sentiment” is fueling crime. Like McCarthy, Sessions—who continues to be sternly (sometimes theatrically) criticized for his lackluster civil rights record—failed to acknowledge systemic institutional failures that have contributed to strained community/police relationships.

When asked by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) if he would make assurances that, if confirmed, Sessions would use his office to prosecute more gun crimes, Sessions said, “Properly enforced, the federal gun laws can reduce crime and violence in our cities and communities… So I truly believe that we need to step that up.”

Sessions’ comments at the hearings come just days before the expected release of the Department of Justice’s findings in a months-long investigation into Chciago Police Department practices related to race and use of force. The probe was launched in the wake of the release of footage of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. When Sessions met with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) last week, the AG nominee declined to commit to implementing the DOJ’s forthcoming recommendations. Sessions was reportedly not aware of the Justice Department’s CPD probe until having met with Durbin.