U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session spoke Friday in St. Louis to state and community leaders and members of law enforcement. The subject was the surge in violent crime and murder, most conspicuously in Missouri. Sessions expressed his fear that the surge “is not a blip, but the start of a dangerous new trend.”
As if to prove him prophetic, a man was shot and killed in Kansas City on Sunday morning, the 27th homicide in Kansas City this year, the most for this date in recent years. In 2016 Kansas City reported 22 homicides by April 2, and 128 for the year. In 2014, by contrast, only 16 homicides were reported by April 2, and 82 for the year.
Some have attributed the spike in both Kansas City and St. Louis to the “Ferguson effect,” the general breakdown in law and order that can occur with police and political leadership fail to back the rank and file.
Sessions, however, focused on the “epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse.” As he noted, 256 people died from an opioid overdose in St. Louis just least year, almost double the number from the previous year, and more than the number of murders.
Sessions addressed the transnational element of the heroin explosion that helped inspire President Trump’s call for border security.
“We need criminal enforcement to stop the transnational cartels that smuggle drugs across our borders, and the thugs and gangs who use violence and extortion to move their product,” said Sessions. He observed that in an executive order Trump directed the Justice Department to dismantle these organizations. Said Sessions, “We will do just that.”