Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Consent decrees 'can reduce morale of the police officers'

Story highlights

  • "They can reduce morale of the police officers," Sessions said.
  • "They can push back against being out on the street in a proactive way," Sessions added.

(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that consent decrees between the federal government and local police departments on reforming police activities can lower police morale.

Sessions' comments come after he ordered the Justice Department earlier this month to review all existing consent decrees. The decrees are formal agreements between the federal government and local police departments overseen by a federal court.
Sessions made comments on "The Howie Carr Show," a New England-based conservative radio program.
    "I do share your concern that these investigations and consent decrees have the, can turn bad. They can reduce morale of the police officers," Sessions said. "They can push back against being out on the street in a proactive way. You know New York has proven community-based policing, this CompStat plan, the broken windows, where you're actually arresting even people for smaller crimes — those small crimes turn into violence and death and shootings if police aren't out there."
    "So every place these decrees, and as you've mentioned some of these investigations have gone forward, we've seen too often big crime increases," Sessions continued. "I mean big crime increases. Murder doubling and things of that nature. It's just, we've got to be careful, protect people's Civil Rights. We can't have police officers abusing their power. We will not have that. But there are lawful approved, constitutional policies that places -- New York is -- the murder rate is well below a lot of these other cities that aren't following these tactics."
    Earlier in the interview, Sessions was asked if he was trying to weed out Obama administration officials within the DOJ, specifically the Civil Rights divisions.
    "Most of the individuals in all our divisions, including Civil Rights, are career officers that have various duties, but the President, the attorney general sets the policy, and I expect those policies to be followed," Sessions said. "If people can't comply with the policies of this administration they should look elsewhere, but I think most of our people will do so and we will be able to bring in some new people, which will be, I think helpful in helping us set our directions."