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Another Wave of Quarreling Sweeps Through Trump Administration After His Statement on Chicago Stop and Frisk
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Photo: Christian Northeast

Another Wave of Quarreling Sweeps Through Trump Administration After His Statement on Chicago Stop and Frisk

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CHICAGO — October 10, 2018

Another round of disputes has started up inside the Trump administration. This time, the apple of discord was Trump's plan to stop crime in Chicago.

The President said yesterday that he plans to stop a “crime spree” in Chicago and called for loosening restrictions on police in the third-largest U.S. city that limit stopping and frisking suspects for weapons and other contraband.

After monitoring since August 2015, it was found that Chicago police officers stopped a disproportionately large number of black people and relied on this practice more than departments in other cities. The city then entered into a deal with the ACLU to limit stop and frisk.

Trump's statements came three days after a white Chicago police officer was found guilty of murder in the 2014 shooting of a black teenager, a case that laid bare tensions between the city's black community and the police department.

Trump said he had directed the U.S. Attorney General to "go to the great city of Chicago to help straighten out the terrible shooting wave," without providing details.

"I've told them to work with local authorities to try to change the horrible deal the city of Chicago's entered into with ACLU, which ties law enforcement's hands and to strongly consider 'stop and frisk,'" Trump said at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Orlando, Florida. "It works and it was meant for problems like Chicago. It was meant for it."

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued the city last year, saying its reforms had not gone far enough. She and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office agreed on more comprehensive reforms in a proposed consent decree filed in federal court last month.

The reforms include requiring the use of de-escalation tactics, ensuring accountability when officers use force irresponsibly, and requiring police to track incidents in which officers point their guns.

It didn't take long for a response to come. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday that the Justice Department would oppose a proposed consent decree to reform the Chicago police department in response to misconduct allegations after the slaying of a black teenager by a white officer.

He added the agreement could lead to a spike in crime in the third-largest U.S. city.

The Trump administration is also concerned that the proposed reforms will undercut policing, noting that an earlier agreement limiting stop-and-frisk tactics had led to a jump in the number of murders.

Many public figures and government representatives are also divided in their opinions.

Some immediately reminded Trump that this is not the first time he has made such loud statements on the matter, and it’s time to fulfill his promise.

Proponents said stop-and-frisk helps prevent violent crime by taking more illegal guns and other contraband off the streets. Opponents protested, saying black people and members of other minority ethnic groups are unfairly targeted by the stops. They also said the stops will lead to minor drug possession charges and that its usefulness is debated, "including in New York City, where crime fell after police abandoned widespread 'stop and frisk' policing."

The White House has declined to comment.

Chicago officials summarily rejected President Trump's advice, with the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling the president “clueless” and motivated by the fear of losing midterm elections.

"Even someone as clueless as Donald Trump has to know stop-and-frisk is simply not the solution to crime," mayoral spokesman Matt McGrath said in an emailed statement.

"Just last week CPD reported there have been 100 fewer murders and 500 fewer shooting victims in Chicago this year, the second straight year of declines, all while we've been making reforms to restore trust with residents," McGrath said. "The fact that he's trotting out this tired rhetoric is another sign he's worried about Republicans in the midterms."

The mayor's office also said the city was uninterested in Trump's idea for reducing violent crime.

Reform supporters added that violent crime, especially murder, increased in Chicago after police abandoned the practice in 2015.

Murder in Chicago peaked in 2016, with 588 deaths, and the murder rate has remained high during Trump's presidency, with 551 in 2017 and 419 so far this year.

Chicago police previously used stop and frisk frequently. About 250,000 people were stopped and frisked without being charged with a crime in a three-month period in 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found.

In opposing the police reform plan, Sessions cited a 2015 agreement between Chicago and the ACLU that resulted from an ACLU report that cited concerns about police investigatory stops, commonly known as stop-and-frisk.

"Chicago's agreement with the ACLU in late 2015 dramatically undercut proactive policing in the city and kicked off perhaps the greatest surge in murder ever suffered by a major American city, with homicides increasing more than 57 percent the very next year," Sessions said in his statement.

"Now the city’s leaders are seeking to enter into another agreement. It is imperative that the city not repeat the mistakes of the past — the safety of Chicago depends on it," Sessions added. He said the Justice Department would file a statement of interest this week opposing the proposed agreement.

Emanuel, a former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama who became mayor in 2011, accused the administration of being "out of touch with reality."

"If anyone in the Trump administration was paying attention, they would know that as we have made major reforms over the past two years, we have also driven a 30 percent reduction in gun violence," Emanuel said.

The police reforms are a response to misconduct allegations that emerged after black teenager Laquan McDonald, who was armed with a knife, was shot 16 times by white police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014.

On Friday, 40-years-old Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder for the shooting of McDonald. He was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery, one count for each of the shots fired.

A video of the incident released in 2015 led to a Justice Department investigation that found Chicago police routinely violated people’s civil rights, used excessive force, and racially discriminated against minorities.

The investigation is not yet finished and will continue for several more months. Note that it is underway on the eve of midterm elections in Congress. While ardent Democrats are trying by all means to resist Trump and his entourage, the President promotes his policy without taking any notice.

This issue concerns not only the elections and the attempt to spoil the President’s reputation, but also the whole country and its division in all directions, as we reported earlier — on political forces quietly but sternly fighting.

Author: USA Really