Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the West Lawn of the Capitol Tuesday, continuing his participation in National Police Week.
Trump and Pence delivered their addresses to mark the 55th National Peace Officers Memorial Day to the assembled crowd of police officers and their families at the Capitol. This marked the 37th year of this ceremony, which includes the “Roll Call of Heroes” in which the names of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty are read.
Sessions, meanwhile, put out a video in which he recounted the history of the day, begun in 1962 by President John Kennedy, and the National Police Week that surrounds it.
Sessions’s appearance at the West Lawn ceremony comes amid a busy Police Week schedule for the country’s top law enforcement official. On Sunday, he attended the annual candlelight vigil for fallen police officers on the National Mall along with Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Neilsen.
“I do not only speak of our courts, but primarily tonight of those in blue who walk our streets, interacting daily with real victims and real criminals. That’s where justice must be done,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks for the Vigil, adding later, “We can never cede a community, block, or street corner to the criminal element. We can never capitulate to lawlessness at our borders.”
“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,” Sessions concluded.
The following evening, Monday, Sessions was able to take part in a more upbeat aspect of Police Week at the 25th Annual TOP COPS Awards at the Omni Shorham Hotel in Washington, DC. Put on by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) to honor officers “for actions above and beyond the call of duty,” this year’s TOP COP winners include seven members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department who responded to the deadliest mass shooting in American history in October – as well as the three Alexandria, Virginia Police and two U.S. Capitol Police officers who took part in the extended gun battle with a crazed left-wing gunman that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) seriously wounded at a Republican team practice for the Congressional Charity Baseball Game in June.
Sessions congratulated the winners, singling out the Las Vegas officers for their bravery. “All of these officers acted selflessly in the face of overwhelming danger. Countless people are alive today because of such courage. This courage was seen in Las Vegas and is constantly seen around the country,” he said in his prepared remarks.
Sessions also took the opportunity to reiterate the Trump administration’s support for police officers and its’ refusal to continue the policy of entering into “consent decrees” with left-wing groups who bring lawsuits against police departments. The issue has been a priority since Sessions took up his post as attorney general. As Sessions put it, the DOJ would not “enter into agreements or court decrees that outsource policymaking to political activists.” In his prepared remarks, he explained:
By the end of the previous administration—many of you came to believe that some of the political leadership of this country had abandoned you. Some radicals and politicians began to unfairly malign and blame police as a whole for the crimes and unacceptable deeds of a few. Amazing— their message seemed to be that the police were the problem, not the criminals. They wanted the ACLU to determine police policies, and that was enforced by a federal court order. They said police were violent while homicides in America increased by a total of 20% in 2015 and 2016, the largest jump since 1968. Law Professor Paul Cassell and economics Professor Richard Fowles established that in Chicago, homicide jumped 58% after the ACLU settlement ended proven and constitutional policing.
We will not agree to decrees that curtail proactive law enforcement practices that save lives, especially the lives of minorities and those living in poorer neighborhoods. We will encourage the proven, Constitutional, and proactive policing that your departments must do to keep America safe.
National Police Week events will continue throughout the capital area until Friday.