Chicago Police, Federal Authorities Announce Effort to Crackdown on Gun Violence on Eve of July 4th Weekend

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP)

The Chicago police and federal authorities will announce Friday an effort aimed at cracking down on gun crimes in the violence-plagued city.

Officials say this effort will combine police officers, state troopers, federal agents and state and federal prosecutors to target illegal guns and repeat gun offenders, which authorities in Chicago have long pointed to as causes of the city’s bloodshed. The announcement Friday comes at the beginning of the July 4 holiday weekend, typically among the deadliest periods in Chicago, which in recent years has struggled with surging levels of gun violence.

On Friday morning, hours before the announcement, President Trump issued a statement on Twitter saying that the violence has “reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help.”

Chicago had 762 homicides last year, more than the combined gun-related death toll in New York and Los Angeles, the only two larger American cities, and the number of shootings has remained high this year.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to the bloodshed in Chicago, weighing in during the campaign and since taking office. In January, Trump tweeted that he would “send in the feds,” which prompted some uncertainty in Chicago, where considerable federal resources were already on the ground and regularly collaborating with police.

“We always have been here,” David Coulson, a spokesman for the Chicago field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said at the time. “We work very closely with the Chicago Police Department.”

Trump’s past comments on the city have been critical of the local police and other local officials, including his January suggestion that the violence is “very easily fixable” and that local authorities were “not doing the job.”

His remarks have drawn some pointed responses from the local police. After he mentioned Chicago’s violence in February, Eddie Johnson — the city’s police superintendent — said he hoped the Trump administration would “finally respond” to local requests for more help. Last year, after then-candidate Trump suggested the violence in Chicago could be stopped in days, Johnson said police would welcome whatever “magic bullet” Trump had.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Mark Berman