Attorney General Jeff Sessions talks opioid crisis in Louisville speech

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LOUISVILLE. Ky. (WKYT) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Louisville Tuesday morning, where he spoke for about 30 minutes at the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He's been traveling across the county speaking about the opioid crisis and law enforcement.

In a speech in Pittsburgh, the Attorney General cast doubt on the effectiveness of drug treatment programs in saving lives.

He said law enforcement is the solution to many of the problems we face, including drug abuse.

During his speech in Louisville, discussed the region's opioid epidemic, as well as the recent school shooting in Marshall County.

Sessions took the podium before an audience of state and local law enforcement officials.

He discussed what he views as progress by the Department of Justice in fighting violent crime and drug abuse, but also noted some areas that need to improve.

Sessions pointed out more Americans are dying of overdoses than ever before, 52,000 deaths in 2015 jumped to 64, 000 in 2016, and the Attorney General expects that number from last year to be up again. Sessions said that trend must be reversed.

"We are not going to stand back and let this crime and addiction continue to rise, plain and simple. We will not allow the progress against crime made by our men and women in blue over the last decade slip through our fingers. We will not cede one block or street corner to drug dealers and criminals," Sessions said.

The Attorney General says overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

Sessions is ordering more resources to investigate pharmacies and prescribers who dispense too many dangerous painkillers.

"That will help us find the abusers, make more arrests, secure more convictions and ultimately help us reduce the number of illegal prescription drugs available for Americans," Sessions said.

Sessions also says he wants to see more effective partnerships between police agencies on the national, state and local levels.

During his speech, Sessions also praised the response of Kentucky State Police and the Marshall County Sheriff's Office to last week's school shooting in Marshall County.

"I want you to know that our department, this department of justice, is ready to do whatever we can to be of assistance. Our FBI behavioral experts are some of the best in the world in these kinds of events. But there are just no easy answers. We don't have any easy answers," Sessions said.

The Attorney General did not take any questions from reporters before flying back to Washington, where he is expected to attend President Trump's first State of the Union address.

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