TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech focusing on crime prevention and drugs in front of law enforcement officials in Toledo Monday afternoon.
Toledo is one of many cities Sessions planned to visit. Earlier Monday, Sessions spoke in Milwaukee.
"Violent crime has been increasing here in Toledo, and that is deeply troubling," Sessions said. "But thanks to our law enforcement officers, this is not hopeless. We can make America safe again."
Sessions began his speech greeting local dignitaries including Toledo police chief George Kral and Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp.
Sessions briefly gave the state of crime in country, mentioning violent crimes like homicide, rape and robberies are up for the first time in two years. He also said violent crime is up in Toledo as well.
Sessions blamed drugs as a leading factor in the rise of crime in America, saying it is an "inherently violent business."
"These trends are not a blip or an anomaly," Sessions said. "I fear that, if we do not act now and smartly, this national could see decades of progress reversed."
Sessions mentioned three specific homicide cases in Toledo representing the trend of violence in the country including:
- 16-year-old Shelton Hicks, who was shot in north Toledo in June. The gunman, Darnell Bryant-Bey, is serving a life sentence for the Hicks's murder
- 20-year-old D'Asia Wallace, who was killed during a fight in September. Emmanuel Garner, 16, faces murder charges in her death
- 23-year-old Thomas Lehman, who was beaten to death in an altercation on Douglas Avenue. Roberto Almaguer and Jordan Collins, both 16, pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges and avoided prison time.
He said law enforcement must become more creative to effectively fight crime in the U.S. He says violent crime prevention starts and is most effective when it is done at the local level.
Sessions announced Toledo would be one of several cities in the country receiving more federal prosecutors to fight crime. Specifically, the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Ohio, which includes Toledo, will get two attorneys. One will be based in Toledo, while the other will be based in Cleveland.
In all, 40 assistant US attorneys will be spread out among cities like Detroit, St. Louis and Oakland. He says eventually the Justice Department will add additional attorneys if the department can secure the funding.
"We are in tight budget times. Crime is rising," Sessions said. "I am determined to move resources to the most productive areas.
Sessions says Toledo will participate in the National Public Safety Partnership, which uses federal agencies like the DEA, FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshal's Service and U.S. Attorney's Offices to assist local law enforcement in investigating crimes and policing.
Sessions announced the US Attorney General's Office will put more effort into Project Safe Neighborhoods. He says the program brings together law enforcement from the federal, state, local and tribunal levels to target violent criminals who commit a disproportionate amount of crime.