Speaking to the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago, President Donald Trump declared the city’s violent crime rate is “embarrassing to us as a nation”, accused the city’s top cop of putting “criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago”, and mocked the city’s gun control laws, noting that Chicago has some of the most restrictive laws in the nation before adding, “That doesn’t seem to be working too well, does it?”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson wasn’t in the room to hear the president’s jabs. Johnson previously announced he was skipping the president’s speech because he felt the “values of the people of Chicago” were inconsistent with what the president was going to say. From the podium, Trump took Johnson to task for his failure to appear, and for his failure to keep Chicagoans safe.
“Here’s a man that could not bother to show up for a meeting of police chiefs, most respected people in the country, in his hometown, and with the president of the United States,” Trump continued.
“And you know why? It’s because he’s not doing his job,” Trump said. “Last year, 565 people were murdered in Chicago. Since Eddie Johnson has been police chief, more than 1,500 people have been murdered in Chicago and 13,067 people have been shot.”
Shortly after the president concluded his remarks, Superintendent Johnson issued a statement of his own chastising Trump and claiming he criticized all Chicago officers, not just the top brass.
BREAKING: After #Trump slams #Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson for city’s 565 murders last year, Johnson holds newser to point out the city’s steady decline in gun violence since he became top cop in 2016: “The same police department he criticized spent all day protecting him.”
— Chip Mitchell (@ChipMitchell1) October 28, 2019
While President Trump was blasting Johnson for Chicago’s continued gang violence, he also told the assembled chiefs that gun control laws aren’t the best way to deal with violent crimes.
“The best way to reduce gun violence is to put criminals with firearms behind bars,” Trump said to applause from the audience. “And just so you understand, we will always protect our Second Amendment.”
During the speech, the president also announced a new executive order establishing a Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, which will focus on addressing some of the root causes of violent crime like homelessness, drug abuse, and mental illness. Many of the chiefs in attendance praised the idea.
“These are issues that have been dumped on the doorstep of law enforcement for years without funding or support,” said Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steven R. Casstevens, who will become IACP president on Tuesday.
“Law enforcement has to become mental health professionals dealing with homelessness … drug overdoses. It’s terrific he showed up here to show support and recognize law enforcement officers,” Casstevens said.
Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall said Trump’s “care and concern for police and our families was evident to me” by the president’s recognition of several law enforcement officers for bravery and leadership.
“I’m encouraged by the signing of the executive order to study and get at the root cause of mental health, drug abuse, homelessness and their relationship to crime,” Marshall said.
“I liked the president’s comments regarding gun violence, being tougher on those criminals who commit violent crimes by the use of firearms upon our citizens.”
Given the fact that the International Association of Chiefs of Police has been very vocal about its support for new gun control laws like a ban on so-called “assault weapons”, waiting periods for firearm purchases, and universal background checks, it was refreshing to hear President Trump bluntly tell the assembled chiefs that Chicago’s gun control laws aren’t the answer to reducing violent crime. The president has been telling supporters and Second Amendment organizations that he’s no longer on board with gun control measures like a “red flag” law or changes to our current background check requirements, and his message to the police chiefs was devoid of any support for the gun control policies. The assembled police chiefs may have applauded Trump’s new executive order, but it was what the president didn’t say that has gun owners cheering his Chicago speech.