Attorney General William P. Barr said Thursday that district attorneys who refuse to pursue charges of resisting arrest against people who act violently towards law enforcement are contributing to anti-police sentiment in America.
In remarks to the annual meeting of the International Association of Police Chiefs in Miami, Mr. Barr lamented that resistance against police officers has become commonplace and puts officers’ lives at risk.
“There are a number of DAs who have stopped enforcing resisting laws and I think we have to get back to the idea that it is completely unacceptable and we have zero tolerance of resistance for police,” he said. “I think this one of the things we have to stop as we build greater respect for our law enforcement.”
His comments drew thunderous applause from the police chiefs.
“A few decades ago, it was a big deal to resist the police officer and now it seems to happen on a casual basis,” said Mr. Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement officer. “One of the reasons we have laws against resisting police officers is precisely because these are dangerous situations, which as you all know, can escalate very quickly. The officer needs to go home to his or her family and should not be required to risk their lives unduly, but a lot of these laws are not being enforced.”
The speech was the latest salvo in Mr. Barr’s ongoing feud with progressive-minded district attorneys who have pledged to reduce the prison population by only pursuing certain criminal charges and decriminalizing lower-level offenses.
Mr. Barr frequently accuses the DAs of demoralizing law enforcement and threatening public safety with their willingness to drop charges.
The attorney general’s comments come at a time when police are under heightened scrutiny by progressive district attorneys, who are have lodged criticisms of brutality and bigotry against law enforcement.
Mr. Barr said such issues can be resolved through traditional channels, rather than dropping resistance charges.
“If people have a problem, we have processes and there is a time and place to raise your concern or complaint. But resistance is unacceptable,” he said.