Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s call for Chicago police to start using stop-and-frisk tactics to get the city’s violent crime under control, saying “the failed policies he’s talking about” would damage the work to build public trust in police.
In the latest example of Trump highlighting Chicago violence, he told the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Florida on Monday that he would send representatives from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office to Chicago “to help straighten out the terrible shooting wave.”
The president said he wanted officials to “work with local authorities to try to change the terrible deal the city of Chicago entered into with ACLU, which ties law enforcement’s hands, and to strongly consider stop-and-frisk.”
“It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago,” Trump said. “It was meant for it. Stop-and-frisk. And Rudy Giuliani, when he was mayor of New York City, had a very strong program of stop-and-frisk, and it went from an unacceptably dangerous city to one of the safest cities in the country and I think the safest big city in the country. So it works.”
Trump’s mention of the ACLU deal is an apparent reference to the agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the city, which required police officers beginning in 2016 to more thoroughly document street stops to try to curb racial profiling and other unconstitutional practices. Police street stops plummeted between 2015 and 2016, and some critics blamed that for an increase in homicides in Chicago in 2016.
Asked about Trump’s comments Monday, Emanuel pointed to statistics showing gun violence down in Chicago since 2016. As he has repeatedly since Trump took office and began singling out Chicago’s crime problem, the mayor said he would welcome federal help in the form of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI to cooperate with police on combating gang crime and gun violence.
“But the failed policies he’s talking about have no place for a city that’s working together with communities, about how to build not only trust, but a collaborative and cooperative relationship,” Emanuel said at a far Northwest Side event to announce more money for sidewalk repairs. “So while resources are always welcomed … the idea of what President Trump’s talking about is not only not welcome, it’s antithetical to what we’re working on. And that is about a strong proactive professional police department.”
Sessions criticized the 2015 deal between the ACLU and the city of Chicago while speaking last month to law enforcement officials at a police training conference in Waukegan.
The agreement, overseen by a retired federal judge, was reached following an ACLU study that found African-Americans were stopped by police at a higher rate than Hispanics and whites. In the settlement, the Chicago Police Department agreed to keep track of all investigatory street stops and protective pat-downs.
The 2015 ACLU of Illinois study found that Chicago police made street stops at a far higher rate than New York City cops did at the height of their controversial stop-and-frisk practices. The ACLU considered suing the Chicago Police Department over the practice, condemning it as racial profiling, but the department agreed to changes that required officers to more thoroughly document their street stops. The changes also were incorporated in a new state law.
As a result, at the start of 2016, Chicago police officers had to fill out more detailed street stop forms, which required them to more comprehensively justify their reasonable suspicion for stopping people. At the time, the Tribune reported that officers complained about how much longer the paperwork took to fill out, keeping them from their street duties.
All the questions on the new forms also increased their anxiety about being second-guessed on whom they stopped and whether the stops were legally justified. As a result, the number of street stops plummeted.
Chicago ended 2016 with more than 4,300 people shot and over 760 killed, the worst violence the city had seen in two decades. Some officers within the department that year blamed the street-stop changes for the rise in violence, in that they prevented cops from policing the streets more aggressively. But crime experts have dismissed that explanation for the spike in violence and the ACLU has contended that the drastic drop in street stops is an indication that officers likely began making fewer unconstitutional stops.
What’s more, the city has seen steady drops in homicides and shootings since a disastrous 2016. Through September of this year, Chicago recorded 419 homicides, a 19 percent drop from the first nine months of 2017 when 520 people were slain in the city, according to official police statistics. Shooting incidents also have dropped by 17 percent during the first nine months of 2018 compared with last year.
Karen Sheley, director of the police practices project for the ACLU of Illinois, said Trump’s remarks come as no surprise and show he is out of touch with Chicago. She also said if the Chicago Police Department returns to its old street-stop policy, that would further alienate Chicagoans, especially African-Americans and Latinos, from the officers.
“This administration has been encouraging unlawful behavior and strong-arm tactics through the police since they came into office,” Sheley said of the Trump administration in a brief telephone interview Monday. “What they’re trying to do is make a community policing issue a political issue.”
Trump has repeatedly referenced Chicago violence since taking office. He threatened via tweet to “send in the Feds!” shortly after his inaugural address, and has subsequently brought it up occasionally in speeches.
The Washington Post contributed.
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