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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Gives Remarks at the Police Foundation's 15th Annual Candlelight Vigil


Chicago, IL
United States

I am honored beyond expression to serve as your Attorney General – and feel daily the weight of my responsibilities.

After over 16 years in law enforcement, I know what your work is all about.  I know what you do; I know that without your courage, steadfastness and sense of duty, the job would not be done.

And we all know that in the performance of that duty, lives are at risk.

What is that job – that profession you’ve given your life to?

It is to place your badge, your skills, and even your lives between the righteous and dutiful Americans and the predators that threaten them. It is to safeguard peace, safety and prosperity in the neighborhoods you serve.

Failure cannot be an option. Because failure allows fear to take hold as violence sets in. Failure means lives destroyed. It means plummeting home values and blighted communities. Grocery stores disappear and local businesses shutter. Generational wealth evaporates as crime rises. Not in our privileged communities. It is disproportionately our poor and minority communities who are hit hardest by rising crime. These are our neighbors who need our help the most.

We value and affirm all our citizens. We can never cede a community, block or street corner to the criminal element.

Our goal is not to see how many people we can put in jail, but to ensure every child can walk to the bus stop without fear and every small business owner can grow and prosper.

And so this is tough work; moral and noble work. And it is essential work.

President Trump has repeatedly said he is the law and order President and the first order he gave to me on my first day was to back the women and men in blue.

You can be sure that is the polestar of our efforts.

And you can be sure that this Department of Justice recognizes and honors the courage, skill and professionalism of our law enforcement officers.

For over 30 years, with strong leadership, better training and policies, and improved education, crime went down in America. The homicide rate fell by half.  Thousands of lives were preserved.  Law enforcement led the way.

But it seems we forgotten some of the proven principles of law enforcement.

State and federal prisons were reduced, the number of law enforcement officers declined and crime began to rise again.

To make America safe, we need to listen to the professionals who have proven over the last 30 years how to reduce crime, violence, and murder. The last thing we need to do is to follow the protestations of anti-police radicals and those who have never walked a beat.

If you want crime to go up, listen to the radicals. If you want crime to go down, we need to listen to the professionals – the police.

And let me be blunt: This insight has been proven in Baltimore, Chicago, and St Louis with tragic consequences for too many families. After riots and violence, political panic and unwise policies, violence surged as proven proactive community policing faded in these communities. It was a catastrophe for these neighborhoods. Much blood has been spilled—thousands of unnecessary deaths have resulted.

We can never pay our law officers enough for the dangerous work that they do, but we can and must respect and support them. We can listen to them about what is required to protect our communities. That’s what this Department of Justice is doing.

And so it is fitting and right that we join together to remember those that have given their all for us.

I am reminded of the sacrifice of these wonderful American law enforcement officers every time I sign a letter to the families of every officer that has lost their life in the line of duty.

It is one of my highest callings to bring attention to your successes and encourage your fellow citizens to support you in your demanding and difficult work.

So tonight, we remember our fallen heroes; we mourn their loss; and we rededicate our lives to preserving, protecting and defending our principles of ordered and constitutional liberty that serve us so well, uniquely among all the world.

As long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will have the back of all honest and honorable law enforcement officers.

May God bless the souls of all those we honor tonight.  May God bless each of you.  And may God bless this wonderful country of yours.

Updated September 5, 2018