Sessions says he'll reconsider Baltimore for anti-violence partnership

Posted at 8:17 AM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 08:17:16-04

U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will reconsider Baltimore's request for federal funding to help fight violent crime.

Sessions made the comment while testifying before a U.S. Senate panel on the Justice Department's budget. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who is a member of the committee, asked Sessions about the National Public Safety Partnership, or PSP. The program provides federal grants and resources to cities to help combat violent crime, gang activity and drug trafficking.

"I just ask for your commitment to see if we can look for a way to see if they can qualify for the funds," Van Hollen said to Sessions. Sessions replied "I would be glad to do that."

Baltimore police commissioner Darryl De Sousa welcomed the possible change of heart. "Any funding, any grant money that we can help reduce violence in the city, I welcome it with open arms," De Sousa said.

The Department of Justice invited Baltimore to apply to PSP last year. In 2017, the city set a record for the number of homicides per capita, with 342 people killed. The Justice Department selected 12 cities to join the partnership, but Baltimore did not make the list.

One of the requirements for cities looking to join PSP was a commitment to reducing violent crime stemming from illegal immigration, and working with federal immigration enforcement.

"The government can't give these grants to cities that actively undermine the safety of officers and those who release criminal aliens back into the community," Sessions said Wednesday.

Baltimore City does not have jurisdiction over the detention centers in Baltimore, they are controlled by the State. 

"The City of Baltimore does not have the laws or state laws regarding DHS, and the access of the Department of Homeland Security to their jails," Van Hollen said to Sessions. "I hope you'll work with me on Baltimore City. We have a violent crime problem."

Sessions said he would look into it. “We have had, I think, more than one, certainly one circumstance in which the jail was run by somebody else other than the jurisdiction,” Sessions said. “So that created a problem and actually led to the approval of the grants. So I’d be glad to look at that.”