Jeff Sessions calls Twin Cities crime levels 'deeply troubling'

The attorney general was speaking in Minnesota as part of a big meeting.
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Update 8:30 p.m. Regarding the apparent discrepancy between the figures quoted by AG Session compared to Minneapolis police. The Attorney General's Office says his quote about a 40 percent rise in homicide came from this Uniform Crime Report that was published at the end of June this year.

This document does indeed say there was a 42 percent rise as of the end of June, but Minneapolis PD says that as of today, July 17, there has only been one more homicide than this time last year, a rise of 5.88 percent.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Minneapolis on Monday, as he addressed a meeting of the National District Attorneys Association.

His speech touched on several areas, including the opioid epidemic, illegal immigration and gang crime. But he made specific reference to Minneapolis and St. Paul while speaking about violent crime levels.

Speaking about the rise in violent crime in the majority of U.S. cities, Sessions said the Twin Cities are among the places this is happening, adding that he doesn't think this is an "aberration or a blip," but part of a genuine trend.

"According to Minneapolis police, violent crime has increased six years in a row," he said. "Through the first half of this year, the preliminary data shows that violent crime is up 17 percent and homicides are up over 40 percent from this time last year. These numbers are deeply troubling – and especially since they represent a sharp reversal of decades of progress. My best judgment is that this rise is not an aberration or a blip. We must take these developments seriously and consider carefully what can be done about them."

He also referenced St. Paul, saying reports of gunfire have been up 62 percent through the first half of 2017. He cited an incident last week when a 10-year-old boy was almost shot by an errant bullet in his home.

He told district attorneys he wants to see a "substantial increase" in gun crime prosecutions, which he sees as crucial in reducing violent crime, as well as calling on them to foster closer partnerships at a local, tribal, state and federal level to bring about improvements in public safety.

Minneapolis PD contradicts Sessions on crime figures

In Minneapolis, the police department does confirm that violent crime has risen "slightly" over the past five years, though it is lower than highs seen in the mid-'90s and the mid-2000s.

Police spokesman Corey Schmidt told GoMN that the 17 percent rise in violent crime and 40 percent rise in homicide claims made by Sessions is not up-to-date information.

He said that violent crime so far this year is up 4 percent – not 17 percent, though it's possible that the discrepancy here is because the AG's office and Minneapolis PD are using different definitions of violent crime. And there has been one more homicide in Minneapolis this year compared to last, a rise of 5.88 percent – not 40 percent.

In Minnesota as a whole, the state's Department of Public Safety shows that in the main four violent crime categories of aggravated assault, homicide, rape and robbery, crime numbers have been trending higher the past five years.

The exception to this was in 2014 when there was a dip compared to the year before.

Among the other things Session brought up during his speech was a drive to increase the amount of asset forfeiture, particularly among drug traffickers, saying "no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime."

He also said the DEA will be tackling the issue of prescription drug abuse, including cracking down on those erroneously prescribing such drugs, which he says is a gateway to heroin abuse.

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