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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Crain's Chicago Business: Trump Talk Aside, Chicago Is Getting Anti-Violence Help from the Feds

Jun 21, 2017
In the News

The following article was published on June 21, 2017. A link to the article can be found here.

ByGreg Hinz

Some eyebrows went up this morning when President Trump's Justice Department announced 12 cities would get "significant assistance" in fighting crime under his new National Public Safety Partnership—and Chicago wasn't one of the dozen.

Just an example of the president delivering on his rhetoric to cut off Chicago and other "sanctuary cities" that balk at cooperating with federal efforts to deport immigrants who are here illegally, right?

Not exactly.

In fact, according to city officials, Chicago is doing about as well as it was under President Obama in securing federal assistance and cooperation to battle the city's terrible wave of gang violence, with some initiatives underway and some new ones on the way soon.

The bottom line: The city was and remains a part of the old Obama program that's just been rebranded by the Trump people.

Maybe it is court orders that have tied Trump's hands. Maybe he's backed off. Maybe I'm being spun.

Here's what I'm being told:

According to Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, while it's true Chicago is not one of the 12 cites that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has targeted for intensive assistance, it will be "grandfathered" in as part of the pilot program Violence Reduction Network city under Obama.

A spokesman for the Justice Department was not available for comment, but a map on an associated website suggests at least some carryover from one administration to the other.

In any event, Guglielmi says the city has received "technical and other assistance" on a variety of things, including setting up a conference with police from New York City on neighborhood patrol strategies, and meeting with counterparts in Los Angeles. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson this week is presenting at a Justice Department conference reporting on what's going on here, Guglielmi added, implying that wouldn't be the case if relations were at a standstill.

Some other news will be coming soon involving aid to the city from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, he added.

Says U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, in a statement, "If President Trump is serious about helping make Chicago a safer place for the families and children that call it home, he would put an end to the misguided attacks regarding our city's struggles with violent crime and instead work with us to foster bipartisan cooperation on common-sense policies and funding to help us address these challenges."

We'll get another read on this when Trump appoints a new federal prosecutor here, someone who will play a key role in determining which kind of cases to make a priority and which to downplay. No news on that yet.

Sometimes, things aren't what they appear to be. This looks like one of those cases.

Update—Congresswoman Robin Kelly is weighing in. From a statement: "Ending the violence that's plaguing Chicago requires a coordinated approach that includes law enforcement cooperation, common sense gun safety legislation and creating jobs and opportunity for our young people. While the VRN program in Chicago has made some progress, we need stronger partnerships and more resources . . . I hope that as additional National Public Safety Partnership cities are announced, Chicago is included. It's time the President to send something more than tweets to Chicago."