March 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered remarks Thursday morning in Nashville, Tenn., to police chiefs from around the world at the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The key-note speaker said President Donald Trump gave him clear direction of his role: "Back the men and women in blue" and "reduce crime."
To assist officers in the field, Sessions announced the launch of the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center, which brings together a coalition of public safety organizations to provide customized technical assistance to law enforcement.
Sessions said in years past, homicide rates had reduced by one half, youth drug use fell by almost half, and violent crime fell dramatically, a 22-year trend that has come to a halt during the past few years.
"Maybe we got overconfident and took our eye off the ball, but more recent trends have become deeply worrisome," he said.
From 2014 to 2016, the violent crime rate went up by nearly 70 percent, robberies went up, assaults went up nearly 10 percent, rape went up by nearly 11 percent and murder shot up by more than 20 percent, Sessions said.
"We cannot allow these trends to continue," he said. "No one should feel like a prisoner in their home. No child should have to fear going to school or walking the streets of their neighborhood."
To handle the threats, Sessions said the Trump administration and Department of Justice are taking steps to disarm criminals and have been in round table discussions about how to handle the mentally ill.
"Some of these people need to be in treatment facilities, not in jails," Sessions said.
Sessions said since the Parkland, Fla., shooting, Trump began the process of banning bump stocks and additional funding will be given for schools to hire resource officers and offer firearm training to school personnel.
Sessions said one problem is the FBI will receive an arrest record, but not a follow-up with the outcome of the case.
"As a result, many people who should be prohibited from having a gun can still pass a background check," he said. "That is dangerous, and we cannot allow it to continue."
Another investment will be funding to increase accessibility to criminal records, especially domestic violence convictions and records of firearm restrictions related to mental illness.
"The bottom line is this: we will not stand by and watch violence rise. Plain and simple, we will not allow the progress made by our women and men in blue over the past two decades to simply slip through our fingers.
"We will protect the poor as well as the rich. We will not cede one community, one block, or one street corner to violent thugs or poison peddlers. After all, our mission is not hopeless. Crime rates don't go up and down like the tides," Sessions said. "Together we really can make a difference."