Mayor Lori Lightfoot moves to deal with Chicago's soaring violent crime

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is never going to think that Bearing Arms is a part of her fan club. I think we’ve made that abundantly clear through the years, and I don’t see that changing.

After all, her city is a complete disaster. It’s a violent, dangerous city that most people are better off skipping out on visiting if they can. It may not be the most violent city out there, but it’s close enough that no sane person should want anything to do with it.

Needless to say, Lightfoot needs to do something.

On Monday, she outlined what she wants to do going forward.

Under pressure to reduce violent crime, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered a speech on Monday aimed at reassuring the public that her administration takes the surge in shootings seriously and is working to make the city safer.

But the mayor fell short of offering any fresh strategies, hitting a series of familiar themes in an address of about 40 minutes delivered at the Garfield Park Gold Dome Fieldhouse.

While saying the city must address “root causes” of crime, including poverty, Lightfoot called for U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to send additional agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to go after illegal guns and more prosecutors to bring additional criminal cases at the federal level.

She also called on Cook County judges to stop releasing people charged with violent crimes on electronic monitoring, reiterating a frequent complaint raised by City Hall and the Chicago Police Department that the court system is too lenient.

Lightfoot said electronic monitoring should not be an option for individuals charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated gun possession, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, carjacking, kidnapping or attempted kidnapping.

She’s not wrong.

When I first saw that she was asking the federal government for help, I rolled my eyes. The rest of the nation shouldn’t have to foot the bill for Chicago’s problems.

However, that’s not all she’s talking about here. Frankly, the idea that someone is getting off with electronic monitoring after being arrested for some of these crimes is concerning. Yes, people are innocent until proven guilty, but there also is probable cause for holding some of these people for a little while.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s comments didn’t resonate with everyone. Criminal justice reform advocates took issue with them, arguing that the policies she’s advocating for don’t actually do anything.

Of course, after those same activists got their way, we started seeing violent crime shoot up, so maybe they should just sit down and shut up.

Basically, Lightfoot wasn’t stupid about what she called for, all things considered. Yes, the call for the feds deals with guns, but it’s not new regulations we’re talking about. Instead, it’s about criminals who are breaking existing laws being brought to justice for it. That’s something most gun rights advocates can live with.

That’s not to say that Lightfoot talked about everything that needs to be addressed. There are other issues at work, such as a lack of arrests.

Yesterday, we wrote about how most neighborhoods are seeing an increase in 2021 violent crime stats by examining all reported violent crime incidents.

  • But if you focus on arrests, the data tells a different story.

Why it matters: Violent crime arrests have dropped 39% in 2021 compared to 2019, which means violent crimes are going up but arrests are going down. Why?

What they’re saying: “Arrests are down likely for a variety of reasons, some related to the pandemic and public health protocols, as well as the decrease in community trust in police as well as a general pulling back of proactive policing,” Roseanna Ander, executive director of the UChicago Crime Lab, tells Axios.

Clearly, part of the problem is a lack of arrests. Some of that may be tied to the pandemic, but if so, that still needs to be addressed. Violent criminals left on the streets have the opportunity to be violent all over again. Not all of them will, but most probably will commit some act of violence again.

Some expected Lightfoot to address that prior to her speech on Monday:

That would be a complete disaster as it would simply incentivize bogus arrests rather than actually addressing any real issues here.

Instead, Mayor Lori Lightfoot directed her attention elsewhere. I’ve given her a lot of flak for her bad moves in the past, but this time, I’m going to say that she’s making solid moves to address the violence. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.