Sen. Sessions speaks to local police

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, spoke candidly on topics ranging from homeland security to the stock market at a breakfast hosted by the Shelby County Police Chief’s Association in July.

The breakfast, held at the Helena City Hall, was attended by most of the county’s police chiefs along with several city and county officials.

Helena Police Chief Mark Hall, president of the SCPCA, introduced Sessions and called him a &uot;pro-law enforcement&uot; representative for Alabama.

Sessions opened his remarks by saying Shelby County should feel fortunate to be living in one of the fastest growing areas in the Southeast even though the growth comes with problems.

&uot;A lot of parts of this state would be happy to be in your place right now,&uot; Sessions said.

He said the growth of automobile manufacturing in the state by the likes of Honda and Mercedes would likely mean spin-off jobs for Shelby Countians.

&uot;All things are not bad in this state. We have a lot going for us,&uot; he said.

Sessions said in light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have realized the importance of firefighters, emergency responders and police officers.

He said the video recently shot in California showing an officer striking a man was not representative of law enforcement as a whole.

&uot;People don’t know about the tough job of a policeman. Everybody thinks it is all like Dragnet where they are busting down doors, breaking into houses,&uot; he said.

&uot;That policeman knew he shouldn’t have done that, but when you are going against tough guys all the time, it can be hard sometimes.&uot;

Another law enforcement topic Sessions commented on was the need for reforming the powers local police officers have in arresting and transporting illegal immigrants.

He said officers’ hands are tied in that if at least 24 illegal immigrants are not collected at one time, the Immigrant and Naturalization Service will not pick them up.

&uot;If we are going to be serious about fighting illegal immigration, we must let local law enforcement do their jobs,&uot; he said.

&uot;Right now there is 100 police officers for every one INS officer,&uot; he said. &uot;You can arrest murderers and bank robbers, but you can’t arrest illegal immigrants.&uot;

Sessions estimated there are at least 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States today.

On the topic of homeland defense, Sessions said firefighters, emergency responders and police officers would benefit greatly from his proposal to increase the role of the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston.

The senator has asked Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, to make the Alabama facility a cornerstone of

President George W. Bush’s push to for increased training of first responders.

A budget request of $3.5 billion has been requested by President Bush for homeland defense, Sessions noted.

&uot;The first people responding to terror will be local policemen and firemen,&uot; he said. &uot;They have to have proper training and funding.&uot;

Sessions was elected in 1996 after serving two years as Alabama’s Attorney General.

He is up for re-election this November and faces Democratic challenger Susan Parker of Morgan County, the current Alabama state auditor, and Libertarian Jeff Allen of Hoover