Jeff Sessions says there is 'real violence' surrounding the legal marijuana market.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions opens a door before his first meeting with heads of federal law enforcement components at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Feb. 9, 2017. REUTERS

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that the federal government should refrain from spending money to sue local police and should instead use its resources to help police figure out the best way to fight crime.

His comments, made during a speech at the National Association of Attorneys General's annual winter meeting, allude to the new administration's plans to combat what has been popularly termed the "Ferguson effect" — officers backing off of policing over fears that their actions will be questioned.

The term traces its origin to the protests in Missouri city in 2014 after a white police officer fatally shot an 18-year-old black man.

"One of the big things out there that's, I think, causing trouble, and where you see the greatest increase in violence and murders in cities is somehow, some way, we undermined the respect for our police and made, oftentimes, their job more difficult…it's not been well-received by them, and we're not seeing the kind of effective, community-based, street-based policing that we found to be so effective in reducing crime," Sessions said, while also announcing plans to form a Justice Department task force on crime reduction and public safety.

According to the Justice Department release of his prepared remarks, Sessions had originally planned to elaborate more on the "Ferguson effect" by referencing those who have publicly expressed support for the idea.

"We've also heard from law enforcement leaders, including the FBI Director (James Comey) and many police chiefs, that something is changing in policing…they tell us that in this age of viral videos and targeted killings of police, many of our men and women in law enforcement are becoming more cautious. They're more reluctant to get out of their squad cars and do the hard but necessary work of up-close policing that builds trust and prevents violent crime," Sessions had planned to say originally.

Sessions also reportedly planned to describe dipping morale and the increase in ambush attacks and shootings that has led to an increase in deaths of police officers.

"In recent years law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the unacceptable deeds of a few bad actors," Sessions had planned to say.

Sessions also admitted on Tuesday that he hasn't fully read the Obama-era Department of Justice reports on abuses committed by police departments in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri. "I have not read those reports, frankly. We've had summaries of them, and some of it was pretty anecdotal, and not so scientifically based," Sessions said.

Sessions also clarified that no call had been made yet by his office on concluding a federal consent decree with Chicago, a process initiated under former President Barack Obama. The federal consent decree could codify police reforms that can be enforced through a court of law.

A recent survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform and published by the Pew Research Center, titled Behind the Badge, questioned nearly 8,000 policemen and women, including 100 officers from 54 police and sheriff's departments between May 19 and Aug. 14 last year. It found that the majority of police officers believe that the Ferguson effect is real.