Attorneys General

Bipartisan Group Plans to Urge Trump to Adjust Policing Policies

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Members of the coalition plan to urge Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions to reverse the current course the Department of Justice has taken.

“Today, our nation faces new public safety challenges, including an increase in opioid abuse, an uptick in homicides in some cities and strained police-community relations,” a group of police chiefs and prosecutors, including Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney in Manhattan, wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions.

“We believe that these challenges are best answered with modern strategies, innovative solutions and a reliance on confirmed data,” they wrote, citing new public safety hurdles such as the opioid epidemic and “strained police-community relations” after years of national focus on police shootings of unarmed black men and women.


Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general who was fired by President Trump, last month in Washington. Credit Carlos Barria/Reuters

The group said that modern strategies had been “pioneered” at the local level and should be used across the country.

Among those strategies was a bipartisan push for a criminal justice overhaul under Mr. Obama that Mr. Sessions’s approach is at odds with. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has pressed to revisit the issue, but it is unclear how much traction he has gained.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said that “Americans voted for President Trump’s brand of law and order and rejected the soft-on-crime policies that made it harder to prosecute drug traffickers and put dangerous criminals back on the street.”

The summit meeting, which is being coordinated by the Brennan Center for Justice, will take place on the same day that Mr. Sessions is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A key issue on the agenda for the summit meeting will be directing federal resources toward violent crime as opposed to low-level offenders, increasing available resources for mental health treatment and urging passage of bills to put sentencing changes in place.

Several police chiefs who will be among the 200 officials and activists taking part in the forum on Wednesday said that a return to community policing has been crucial in lowering crime, and they urged Mr. Sessions to take into account the significance it has had.

“Everybody should agree that we want to keep low-level offenders out of the system,” said Mark Holden, the general counsel of Koch Industries. Charles G. and David H. Koch have made sentencing overhaul a key issue for the past several years.

Mr. Holden said that officials at the Justice Department should look at what has taken place in certain states.

“We think that there’s a lot of opportunity to save a lot of money and continue to keep people safe if they follow” the lead in the states, he said.

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Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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