The Department of Justice filed a brief opposing a consent decree negotiated between Chicago and the state of Illinois that would have severely hampered the ability of police to fight violent crime.
Instead, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a series of measures to help the city deal with the plague of shootings that have skyrocketed over the last three years.
“There is one government institution, and one alone, that has the ability to make Chicago safer – that is the Chicago Police Department,” Sessions said. “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.”
The decree was partially negotiated by Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, and other community groups. The “reforms” would handcuff the police, as such decrees have handcuffed other police departments across the country.
The measures to assist law enforcement in Chicago that Sessions announced would largely be targeting violent criminals:
As part of Trump’s request to step in, “five additional violent crime prosecutors” will report to the crime-stricken city and will help John Lausch, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, launch a Gun Crimes Prosecution Team, the DOJ news release said.
“Working with state and local law enforcement, this new unit will help ensure that Chicago’s most dangerous criminals are charged quickly after arrest and prosecuted, disrupting the cycle of violence in the neighborhoods most in need,” the news release said.
Five violent crime coordinators (VCCs) will also join Lausch’s Project Safe Neighborhoods team, the DOJ said.
“These experienced VCCs will join the existing ATF VCC in Chicago in the daily review of firearm arrests and seizures in the city to ensure the most violent firearm offenders are promptly and effectively prosecuted in federal court,” the news release said. (“ATF” refers to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.)
Firearms fatalities have dropped significantly over the last two years from their high in 2015. But that’s because police officers who had been taken off the street by Mayor Rahm Emanuel were rushed back on to patrol.
But the so-called “reforms” would have resulted in far fewer arrests as police would likely refuse to be proactive due to fear of getting caught up in the anti-police hysteria generated by BLM and community groups. This was the pattern during the years that the Obama administration ran the DoJ. Even commonsense anti-crime measures by police were deemed “racist,” thus leading to a spike in violent crime in those cities under a consent decree.
The Justice Department enforcement measures are welcome, but hardly a game changer. They won’t prevent much crime, only prosecute violent criminals. That said, any help Chicago can get is needed badly as the police department’s morale is at a low ebb.