CHICAGO — Chicago's rising crime rate is a result of criticism and morale issues undermining police officers, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in Tuesday's Senate confirmation hearing to decide if he will be the next U.S. attorney general.
Facing a panel of U.S. senators, Sessions attributed last year's spike in violence in Chicago, where at least 762 people were slain in 2016, to morale issues in law enforcement.
"I can feel in my bones about how it was going to play out in the world when we had, what I thought, often times, was legitimate criticism of what was perhaps wrongdoing of an officer but spilling over into condemnation of our entire police force," Sessions said about protest movements stemming from killings by police officers in recent years.
"Morale has been affected, and it has affected the crime rates in Baltimore and Chicago. I don't think there's any doubt about it," he added.
Sessions also responded to a question by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) about gun violence in minority communities and cities like Baltimore and Chicago.
"Properly enforced, the federal gun laws can reduce crime and violence in our cities and communities," Sessions responded.
Earlier Tuesday, Politico interviewed Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who said Sessions told him he was “not prepared to commit” to findings in a yet-to-be released U.S. Justice Department report on the Chicago Police Department that began after the 2015 release of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video.
That report is expected to be released before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration next week.
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