U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Speaks At Conference In Scottsdale

Published: Monday, May 7, 2018 - 8:44am
Updated: Monday, May 7, 2018 - 3:50pm

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Scottsdale Monday addressing the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies.

Sessions said it wasn’t business as usual in the Department of Justice, calling it a Trump era of supporting law enforcement.

The attorney general said immigration was a top priority, and he vowed to fight against sanctuary cities, which he said were undermining the rule of law.

“We’re gonna call on the people of the jurisdictions to ask their leaders, ‘What are you doing? Do you not believe in law? Do you believe that all you’ve got to do it get into American unlawfully and never to be deported?’” Sessions said.

Sessions said he was sending more assistant U.S. attorneys to the border to speed up the deportation process.

The attorney general said all unauthorized border crossers would be prosecuted. He called the U.S. a generous nation, but vowed that all illegal border crossers, even women and children, would be prosecuted.

“If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally," he said. "It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

Sessions admitted there was a modest decline in violent crime in 2017 despite previously claiming a wave of violent crime was sweeping the country.

With regard to sentencing, Sessions told the law enforcement officials while some thought the U.S. puts too many people behind bars, there were "others that need to be in the slammer that are not there. If you get to a revolving door situation — I'm almost afraid we are — it undermines our ability to produce the results that you've produced over the last 30 years."

The attorney general remembered Officer Jesus Cordova of the Nogales Police Department who was killed in the line of duty while pursuing a carjacking suspect and conveyed thoughts and prayers for Senator John McCain. Sessions served with McCain in the U.S. Senate.

Sessions said he understood his colleagues' concern with forensic lab backlogs and was directing the federal government to help deal with the untested material.

"In 2018," he said, "we'll invest more than $100 million in state and local labs to make the faster, more efficient and more effective."

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
Sessions spoke about encryption of electronic devices, which he said threatens law enforcement.

Sessions also expressed concern over encryption, which he said threatens law enforcement. "It keeps up from getting electronic evidence even when we have a warrant based on probably cause, signed by a federal judge. You can't open these phones," he said.

"If you have a warrant to open somebody's safe and they won't open it, you can blow it open. You can go into the trunk of their car by force if need be, or the glove compartment, in a desk or a filing cabinet," Sessions said. "That's always been the law since, I guess, the founding of the American republic."

Sessions lamented that Congress and tech companies were "not so interested" in working against encryption efforts.

The attorney general told the group that the Department of Justice was dedicated to reducing crime in America.

"The most important thing that we can do to that end," he said, "is to continue to improve our relationship with state and local partners."

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