Signaling a “new crackdown on violent crime,” President Donald Trump says he will name a commission to study the challenges faced by law enforcement, including drug abuse, homelessness and mental health, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
The president announced the effort in a speech Monday in Chicago to the International Association of Chiefs of Police at its annual convention that also contained sharp criticism of Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
The commission, recommended by Attorney General William Barr, also will look at ways to improve recruitment, training and retention of police. The new panel may serve as a follow-up to a commission on 21st-century policing that was formed by former President Barack Obama. The commission issued a report in 2015.
Trump criticized Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson for not appearing at the session where the president spoke.
“He is not doing his job,” Trump said, saying there were 565 murders and more than 13,000 shootings in the city last year.
Trump said Johnson’s “values are a disgrace,” citing Chicago’s refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in a “sanctuary city.”
Afghanistan is a safe place compared with Chicago, Trump asserted.
The president said that Barr would soon announce a “new crackdown” on violent crime that he described as “very dramatic,” but did not immediately provide details.
Before Trump spoke in a city he once called a “war zone,” some Chicagoans expressed the fear that he would worsen the tense relationship between police and communities, reports USA Today.
“Here in Chicago, we have worked very hard to rebuild trust between police and the community and the last thing we need is for the president to undermine that with a tough-on-crime speech to police chiefs,” said Ciera Walker-Chamberlain of the Jesus Christ House of Prayer Church.
“If he really wants to help, he should fund violence prevention programs and support criminal justice reforms.”
In recent years, Chicago has reported the nation’s most homicides. Chicago is the nation’s third-largest city. Homicide rates in Chicago pale in comparison to those of other cities when taking into account its population of more than 2.7 million people.
“Chicago had a remarkable spike in homicides, for unclear reasons, in 2016. But since then, it’s recovered by a large percent,” said Phil Cook, a professor at Duke University. “It looked to all the world like an epidemic outbreak in relatively few neighborhoods.”
Last year, Chicago again had the nation’s highest number of firearm-related homicides. FBI data say the city’s firearm-related homicide rate, per capita, trailed St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Memphis, Kansas City, Newark and Philadelphia.
In 2018, St. Louis reported a firearm-related homicide rate three times that of Chicago. For the past two years, shootings and homicides have declined in Chicago, and 2019 is on track to continue the trend.