Chicago's Mayor Responds to President Trump

January 25th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

President Donald Trump has promised a “law and order administration” that will rid U.S. cities of crime by empowering law enforcement. Now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is saying he welcomes Trump's threat to “send in the Feds” if the city does not reduce violent crime — if the president is willing to work with him on how that might look.

First, it is important to note: Trump got his facts wrong. A spokesperson from the Chicago Police Department who spoke to ABC News disputed the statistics in the president's tweet: At the time he sent there had ben 38 homicides in 2017, not 42, and 182 shootings, not 228.

Second, Emanuel's offer to work with Trump includes some demands the president seems unlikely to indulge. For one, the Chicago mayor told local media the federal government could help his city by pursuing more effective gun control. Illinois has tough gun laws, but gun control advocates say weaker laws in neighboring states contributes to the flood of weapons coming into Chicago. In 2014, more than half of the guns seized in the U.S.'s third largest city came from out of state, which is consistent with the Chicago Police Department (CPD)’s evaluations of previous years. 

Emanuel is also asking for more interagency collaboration between the local police department and federal entities like the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, in order to better track illicit guns. This should go hand-in-hand, he argues, with increased federal funding to hire more police officers.

The CPD has had trouble in the last few years, with officers found running an off-the-books warehouse with tortuous interrogation tactics and a report from the Department of Justice describing a pattern of excessive force, poor training, and inadequate discipline for officers when they were in the wrong. Emanuel, who has called for tougher mandatory minimum sentencing, has tried to walk the tightrope of being tough on crime while also seeking to address problems at the department tasked with fighting it.

Additionally, the mayor is asking for “funding and [partnership] in making sure our kids have good activities, mentoring, after school [and] summer jobs.” Studies have shown that such programs have been effective in reducing youth violence, in addition to keeping children off the streets where they could be the victims of shootings.  

“In all aspects, the federal government can be a partner," Emanuel said, who was President Obama’s chief of staff from 2009 to 2010. "To be honest, they haven’t been for decades."