Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will visit Louisville on Tuesday “to deliver remarks on efforts to reduce violent crime and fight the opioid crisis,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky.

Session will make the comments at the federal attorneys’ office in downtown Louisville at 10:15 a.m., which will be closed to the general public.

In the past two years, Louisville — along with other large cities in the region — has withstood a significant increase in both criminal homicides and opioid overdoses. The Louisville Metro Police Department says that violent crime and the illegal drug trade are often connected, and a federal task force was created last year to address the problem.

Jefferson County’s 120 criminal homicides in 2016 was an all-time high, while last year’s 110 was tied as the second-highest total.

In 2016, 2,258 patients received a dose of naloxone on Louisville EMS overdose runs, while the Jefferson County Coroner’s office documented that 324 people died of an accidental drug overdose — with the large majority of those related to opioids. Both of these all-time highs were surpassed in 2017.

Sessions’ visit comes just a week after city officials aired their continuing dispute with his Department of Justice over an immigration ordinance passed by Louisville Metro Council last year, which codified that city police officers will only assist federal agencies enforcing immigration laws when there is a risk of violence or a judicial warrant.

In November, the Justice Department included Louisville on a list of 29 local jurisdictions that may be in violation of federal laws promoting information sharing related to immigration enforcement, with Sessions stating that “jurisdictions that adopt so-called sanctuary policies also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law.”

Last week, the DOJ reiterated in a letter to Mayor Greg Fischer that the city may still be out of legal compliance, threatening to subpoena documents and cut the city off from a federal grant. Fischer countered that this amounted to an “unnecessary threat,” adding that “picking fights for political reasons is a disservice to all Louisvillians, Kentuckians and Americans.”

Stating that he and other mayors have already addressed Sessions’ concerns over immigration policies, Fischer added, “perhaps the mailbox at DOJ should be checked.”

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]