Sessions Plans to Stop Investigating Urban Police Departments

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The latest from the Trump administration:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised on Tuesday a return to more muscular law enforcement and a get-tough approach to drug trafficking and illegal immigration, saying that a recent spike in violence in some cities is “driving this sense that we’re in danger.”…In his first official speech since he was sworn in this month, Mr. Sessions told members of the National Association of Attorneys General that he was concerned that the rise in violence in some cities was not “a one-time blip” but rather “the beginning of a trend.”

Here’s the raw data from the Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey, our two best sources of violent crime data:1

The Uniform Crime Report shows an increase in 2015, which may very well be a reporting issue, and a further increase in the first half of 2016, which may or may not hold up through the end of the year. The NCVS shows a decline in 2015, and hasn’t yet released data for 2016.

So is this a blip or the beginning of a trend? There’s evidence for either one, especially if you look just at large cities, so you can call it anything you want. It serves Sessions’ purpose to believe it’s the beginning of an urban (wink wink) crime wave, so that’s what he’s decided to call it. After all, it helps justify stuff like this:

The Justice Department will likely pull back from the investigations into alleged abuses at municipal police departments that were a hallmark of the Obama administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday in his first major speech as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer.

….“Where you see the greatest increase in violence and murders in cities is [where] somehow, someway, we undermine the respect for our police, and make, oftentimes, their job more difficult,” Mr. Sessions said….“We are going to try to pull back on this, and I don’t think it’s wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights,” Mr. Sessions said in his speech Tuesday. ”I think it’s out of a concern to make the lives of people, particularly in poor, minority communities…safer, happier.”

See? Sessions just wants to make the lives of black people better. I hope all you haters are satisfied.

1The NCVS “serious violent crime rate” is higher than the UCR “violent crime rate” because it uses a more expansive definition of violent crime.

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