LITTLE ROCK — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to a group of law enforcement officers and prosecutors Wednesday morning in Little Rock on the first stop of a two-stop tour in Arkansas.
Sessions, introduced by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Cody Hiland, said he had long connections to Arkansas legislators and former elected officials.
“It is good to be in the real world,” Sessions said in his opening remarks with a laugh. He didn’t take questions from the press and spoke for about 25 minutes.
Sessions noted he and Gov. Asa Hutchison were both appointed U.S. Attorneys by President Ronald Reagan in the early 80s with Hutchinson representing Arkansas, and Sessions in Alabama.
Hiland joked that Sessions was from “football impoverished Alabama” and Sessions noted in his time as a U.S. Attorney and later state Attorney General that “we prosecuted people who lead our football players astray.”
Hutchinson wasn’t at the event but did join Sessions for another an event on school safety in Pearcy at Lake Hamilton High School.
Sessions also noted his friendships with Tim Hutchinson, the governor’s brother and former U.S. Senator, current U.S. Sen. John Boozman, whom he called an “old Razorback,” and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who Sessions singled out for praise and he was among the important legislators on criminal justice issues.
Much of Sessions’s speech was devoted to criminal justice issues and how to deal with the country’s rising crime rate which he called, “troubling.”
In his prepared remarks, Sessions said, “From 2014 to 2016, the violent crime rate went up by nearly seven percent. Robberies went up. Assaults went up nearly 10 percent. Rape went up by nearly 11 percent. Murder increased by more than 20 percent.
“Here in Arkansas, the change was even more dramatic.
“The overall violent crime rate went up by nearly 15 percent. Aggravated assault by nearly 16 percent. Rape went up by nearly 21 percent. And murder went up by nearly 29 percent.”
Sessions, who was a U.S. Senator from Alabama and early supporter of the Donald J. Trump’s campaign for President, “The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me a clear order. And, let me tell you, Donald Trump knows how to give a clear order. He told me to ‘reduce crime in America.’ Not to preside over ever-increasing crime. He wants us to take action and bring down crime.”
He added that “our goal is to not fill up the prisons but keep people safe” and emphasized the need for those incarcerated to serve their full sentences.
After finishing his remarks, Sessions met with local leaders and law enforcement in a closed-door session, and then departed for Garland County.