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Jeff Sessions addresses Ten Point Coalition in Indianapolis

Photo courtesy Curtis Hill, Indiana Attorney General/Facebook

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Indianapolis Monday to meet with Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and members of the Ten Point Coalition to discuss community policing.

Jeff Sessions' remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Attorney General Hill, for that kind introduction.  And thank you for your 14 years of service as a prosecutor.  I also want to congratulate you on receiving more votes than any statewide candidate in Indiana history.  I think that’s a sign that the people of Indiana are grateful for your work.

I also know that you do a lot of work as a mentor to try to inspire our young people to live out their God-given potential. Thank you for that as well.  That goal is at the heart of what the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition is all about.

I’d like to thank Reverend Harrison for hosting us here at his church. Reverend, we appreciate your hospitality, as well as your leadership with the Ten Point Coalition.

Before we get started, I want to ask for a moment of silence. Our hearts are broken today. Yesterday, 26 people were killed and 20 injured at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The pastor and his wife lost their 14-year-old daughter—in total over a dozen children were lost yesterday as they prayed in their pews. The loss is as tragic as it is unimaginable. I would like to ask us all to remember them in prayer and may the Lord's blessing and comfort be with them and their families, and all of those in the church and may that terrible event be an inspiration for us to do better in our lives. Amen.

And thank you for having me here today.  I understand that Vice President Pence visited with you in August.  I want to echo his praise for this program that he said “saves lives and works miracles every day.”

Last year, ministers in this room negotiated a truce in a gang war, ending a cycle of violence and revenge. Because of your example, your powerful preaching, your “safety walks,” and your patrols during high-crime parts of the week, people have given up lives of crime and instead have taken good jobs at local businesses like Reiss Welding—so that they know they don't have to sell drugs just to get by.

You have had the courage to say, in the words of St. Paul, “I will show you a more excellent way.”

After a two-month period with four homicides, you have helped bring about two years straight with zero homicides in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood—even as the rest of the city was setting homicide records. I'm told that in the three neighborhoods you serve—Butler-Tarkington, Crown-Hill, and United Northwest—you have helped reduce homicides by 85 percent.

Those are amazing results. For these accomplishments, you received the FBI’s Community Leadership Award this Spring. Congratulations on that well-deserved award. I'm really impressed with what the Coalition has accomplished, and I believe that it could be a model for cities across America.

On behalf of President Trump and the Department of Justice, I’m honored to be here with you all.  The President recognizes the importance of your work—and he is law enforcement’s strongest supporter.

I would submit to you that your work is only becoming more important by the day.

It took decades of work—and innovative policing strategies—to reduce crime in America.  And for 20 years, crime rates steadily declined.  But over the last two years, the declines have been replaced by sharp increases in violent crime.  The violent crime rate is up nearly seven percent and the homicide rate has increased 20 percent in just the last two years.

I strongly believe these trends are not a blip, and that if we do not act now and act smartly, this nation could see a reversal of decades of our hard-won gains.

Despite your hard work and your many successes, Indiana has not been immune to increasing violent crime.  The homicide rate has increased 40 percent statewide since 2012 – as well as more than 50 percent across the metro Indianapolis area.  These are shocking statistics.

Fortunately, we have a President who recognizes how serious this situation is.

As soon as I was sworn in as Attorney General, he sent me an executive order to “reduce crime” in America.  We at the Department of Justice embrace that goal.  And we know from experience that it can be done.

Our foundational strategy to reduce crime in America is the re-establishment of a new and modernized Project Safe Neighborhoods—or PSN—program as our priority.  And I think you’ll agree that it’s in perfect harmony with what the Ten Point Coalition is all about.

PSN encourages U.S. Attorneys’ offices to work with the communities they serve to develop customized crime reduction strategies.

This is a proven model.  One study showed that, in its first seven years, PSN reduced violent crime overall by 4.1 percent, with case studies showing reductions in certain areas of up to 42 percent.

Our goal is to make every community safer—and especially the most vulnerable.  We will not leave anyone behind.  And let’s face it: it’s not our privileged communities that suffer when crime is on the rise.  It’s those that were already struggling.

Heather Mac Donald at the Manhattan Institute has written on the staggering statistics. She found that nearly 900 more African Americans were killed in 2016 than the year before and that the total number of black homicide victims was 7,881—over 1,300 more than the number of white victims.

At the same time, last year, we saw a 61 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty because of a felony, and on average, more than 150 officers were assaulted in the line of duty every single day.

This is why the work you do is so vital. Proactive community-based policing is what is required. I was just in New York City last week meeting with the NYPD—they have had amazing results with the work they have done.

We will heed the President’s call.  We will not concede a single block or street corner in the United States to lawlessness or crime.  Today, I am announcing the Violent Crime Reduction Coordinating Committee to effectively coordinate these efforts across the Department and ensure we are doing our best every day to support your efforts.

And so to everyone in this room, our friends and partners: thank you for your hard work to serve and protect this community.  It is truly a noble and high calling to work every day to ensure the safety and security of the people of this nation.

That’s why we are so proud to stand with you.  God bless you all.

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