(CNSNews.com) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday blamed the spike in murders in Chicago on the Obama administration’s consent decree, which called for police reforms in response to police harassment and brutality claims.
Speaking at the Valor Survive and Thrive Conference in Waukegan, Ill., the attorney general said there was a “historic” drop in violent crime nationwide from 1991 to 2014, but that trend reversed itself in the last two years of the Obama administration thanks to a consent decree by the Obama DOJ.
“From 1991 to 2014, we saw an historic nationwide decline in violent crime. Murder dropped by half. Violent crime overall dropped by half. Rape decreased by more than a third, and robbery plummeted by nearly two-thirds.This was an incalculable benefit to America, but nationally in the last two years of the previous administration, the trends ominously reversed,” Sessions said.
“From 2014 to 2016, the violent crime rate went up by nearly seven percent. Assaults and rape went up nearly 10 percent. Murder shot up by more than 20 percent. Sadly, this was a nationwide phenomenon, but Chicago is, without a doubt, the most dramatic example,” he said.
“In 2014, the police here came under intense criticism. A year later, the ACLU issued a report on ‘Stop and Frisk in Chicago’ and threatened the City of Chicago with a lawsuit—and the politicians went into a retreat. In the aftermath, the city’s leadership rushed into an irresponsible consent decree with the radical activists and the ACLU,” Sessions said.
“After the consent decree became effective on January 1, 2016, policing went down; crime went up—and as a result, hundreds of Chicagoans are now dead—almost all of them African-American or Latino. Chicago saw the biggest single-year increase in the murder rate since we’ve had reliable statistics—which is over 60 years.
765 people were killed in Chicago, the most the city had seen in 20 years. Over the previous decade before the consent decree, the average was 454. That means that 311 Chicagoans—friends, neighbors, moms, dads—were killed in 2016 who might still be alive if the murder rate had stayed at the 10-year average,” the attorney general said.
He said more people were murdered in Chicago two years ago than in New York and Los Angeles combined, “even though Chicago has one-fifth of the population of those two cities.”
“The situation was so bad that nearly a quarter of the nationwide increase in homicide that year happened in Chicago alone,” Sessions said. “This did not need to happen. In 2015 and 2016, Chicago had the same police on patrol and the same prosecutors in court, but dramatically different results.”
Sessions explained that the consent decree resulted in more violent crime, the victims of which were mostly African-American and Latino. It also required police officers to fill out lengthy paperwork and submit it to the American Civil Liberties Union, a former judge, and a public database for everyone they stopped.
“According to a study by two professors from the University of Utah—one of whom is a former federal judge—the consent decree mandated a major change in Chicago’s community-based policing—including Terry stops—that allowed this bloodshed to take place.
“The professors found that the increased crime cost a staggering $1.5 billion and noted that 78 percent of its victims were African-American and 16 percent were Latino. Ninety-four percent of the victims were minorities. The ACLU consent decree required police officers to submit a detailed report to the ACLU, a former federal judge, and a publicly available database after every single Terry stop.
“John’s predecessor as United States Attorney, Zachary Fardon, said in an open letter to the City that the ACLU agreement “[told] cops if you go talk to those kids on the corner, you’re going to have to take 40 minutes to fill out a form, and you’re going to have to give them a receipt with your badge number on it. And he noted that as a result, by January 2016, ‘the city was on fire’ because ‘the rule of law, law enforcement, had been delegitimized.’"
“That is a devastating analysis,” Sessions said. He said Chicago officers complained that they feared getting in trouble for stops that were later determined to be illegal and the forms they had to fill out took too much time.
“After the consent decree pushed by the ACLU went into effect in 2016, these stops declined by 75 percent. Chicago police made 24 percent fewer arrests in 2016 than they made in 2015, and about half as many arrests as they made in 2011. To any police officer or sheriff’s deputy on the beat, the dangers created were immediately obvious, but tragically, it was not obvious to the politicians, the media, or the activists,” Sessions said.
As a result, “policing went down and crime went up,” the attorney general said, referring to what was deemed “the ACLU effect.”
“There’s a clear lesson here: if you want more shootings and more death, then listen to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or Antifa. If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been studying this for 35 years,” Sessions said.
He said while Chicago has hired 1,100 more police officers last year, “the disastrous consent decree is still in effect.”
What’s more, the consent decree has resulted in the ACLU effect in other major cities like Baltimore and St. Louis, the attorney general said.
“But Chicago is not alone. Good and decent people of other cities have also suffered from leadership and politics forcing their police departments to restrict proactive community policing. One of the most tragic examples is Baltimore. After the death of Freddie Gray, violence and riots followed. City leadership signed a consent decree with the ACLU. The results were the same as in Chicago.
“From 2014 to 2017, the average number of field interviews conducted by police in Baltimore fell by 70 percent. Arrests fell dramatically and arrests on outstanding warrants dropped by half. Meanwhile, homicides in Baltimore increased by 62.5 percent. Rape more than tripled. Car theft and aggravated assault went up by third.
“St. Louis has gone through a similar ordeal. In St. Louis, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 in nearby Ferguson, there were riots and police pulled back from the community. In 2015—the year after the riots—St. Louis became the murder capital of the United States. In 2016, it had a murder rate more than 10 times the national average and double the murder rate of Chicago, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” he said.
The attorney general said “smart law enforcement policies” can effectively decrease crime rates “and start a virtuous cycle of safety and prosperity.” He pointed to New York City as an example of this, and he credited former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
“In 1990, there were 2,605 murders in New York City. Last year there were 292. Thanks to the historic work of Bill Bratton and Rudy Giuliani, the burglaries are down by nearly two-thirds and robberies have been cut in half since 2000. Results like these don’t happen by accident. This was the work of smart and diligent policing,” Sessions said.
“New York targets criminals whom they refer to as Alpha Criminals—ones who commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime and recruit others to join their enterprises. NYPD monitors crime rates block by block. Los Angeles has also shown how to reduce crime. Violent crime fell by more than 70 percent from the 1980s to 2015. From 2005 to 2013, the murder rate fell by nearly half,” the attorney general said.
“The proof is in.It can no longer be denied: disrespect and lack of support for police officers has real world consequences,” he said. “Leaders must understand and affirm the important and dangerous work of our officers. Failure to support our professionals undermines the pro-active policing that has been shown to save lives.”