Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was sworn in Thursday as the 84th attorney general of the United States as President Trump signed three executive actions aimed at bolstering law enforcement.
Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and Alabama attorney general, pledged to attack a crime problem that he described as “a dangerous permanent trend that has places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”
Sessions’ remarks on crime during the brief White House swearing-in ceremony come after Trump’s disputed claims in recent days about record rising crime throughout the United States. FBI statistics have shown a sustained decline in violent offenses across the U.S., in recent years.
Although murder jumped by 11% in 2015, the biggest one-year increase in more than 40 years, the overall rate remains the lowest in decades. A December analysis of the 2016 overall crime rate in the nation’s 30 largest cities by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found that the rate was expected to remain roughly the same as 2015, indicating that rates “will remain near historic lows.”
Before Sessions’ took the oath of office from Vice President Pence, Trump used the occasion to announce the series of orders, which direct federal law enforcement to step up efforts against international drug cartels; create a national task force aimed at reducing violent crime; and a move to protect local police from violence directed at law enforcement.
Last year, overall police fatalities increased 10% from 2015, including a surge in fatal police shootings. Sixty-four officers were fatally shot last year, an increase of 56% from 2015.
“A new era of justice begins,” Trump said. “And it begins right now.”