Violent crime in Chicago, specifically shootings and murders, has long been an issue of great concern to President Donald Trump, and his administration has now taken yet another step to combat the excessive level of gun crime in the city.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced the deployment of additional law enforcement resources to Chicago to help get the crime rate under control. He is also seeking to grant more flexibility to local law enforcement agencies with regard to particular policing practices and policies.
In a Department of Justice news release, Sessions noted that “Public safety, security and order” are a fundamental responsibility of all levels of government, one that chiefly rests on the shoulders of local law enforcement agencies.
“There is one government institution, and one alone, that has the ability to make Chicago safer — that is the Chicago Police Department,” said Sessions. “Our goal should be to empower it to fulfill its duties, not to restrict its proper functioning or excessively demean the entire Department for the errors of a few. Make no mistake: unjustified restrictions on proper policing and disrespect for our officers directly led to this tragic murder surge in Chicago.”
In light of that statement, and pursuant to orders from President Trump, Sessions dispatched five additional violent crimes prosecutors to Chicago. Those prosecutors will join a special Gun Crimes Prosecution Team established by Northern District of Illinois U.S. Attorney John Lausch and will largely focus on investigating and prosecuting gun crimes in the most violent neighborhoods of Chicago.
Five additional Violent Crime Coordinators have also been deployed to Chicago by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, where they will join the lone VCC already in the city to form a Project Safe Neighborhoods team also established by Lausch. That team will conduct daily reviews of firearms-related arrests and seizures and ensure that violent criminals are quickly prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Those additional prosecutors and coordinators will bolster the additional law enforcement resources Sessions already dispatched to Chicago in July 2017, which took the form of the Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force.
That special strike force includes “21 additional permanent ATF special agents, six intelligence research specialists, 12 task force officers from the Chicago Police Department, two task force officers from the Illinois State Police, and four ballistics specialists” that are all focused on catching and prosecuting the worst violent offenders in the city.
Opposition to consent decree
Sessions also announced that the DOJ stood in opposition to a proposed “consent decree” agreement that would see the state of Illinois impose control and restrictions on the Chicago Police Department, an agreement that stemmed from a 2015 settlement between Chicago and the American Civil Liberties Union that prevents the CPD from utilizing certain policing policies and procedures the ACLU has deemed to be “excessive force and racially biased.”
A Statement of Interest filed by the DOJ in the lawsuit argued that the consent decree was overly broad and unfairly restrictive, both in terms of the control wrested away from local authorities with regard to their budget and day-to-day operational procedures.
Rather than impose federal and state control on the Chicago Police Department, the DOJ asked instead that the court “allow state and local officials — and Chicago’s brave front-line police officers — to engage in flexible and localized efforts to advance the goal of safe, effective, and constitutional policing in Chicago.”
The Trump administration appears to be serious about cracking down on violent crime, and the deployment of additional law enforcement resources and effort to ensure Chicago’s police can effectively do their jobs is a solid step in the right direction.