Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about Chicago. In recent years, he’s found only two reasons to talk about the city — to promote his property and to score cheap political points by reciting murder stats.
Trump doesn’t offer real solutions or express much sympathy for the victims of Chicago’s violent crime. Any time he brings up the issue, he quickly turns to insulting the city’s Democratic leaders, presenting himself as its savior, or scaring his supporters. Then he moves on until he needs to whip up fear and resentment at a campaign rally or on Twitter.
On Monday though, Trump said he’s finally planning to do something about the crime in the city. After threatening for years to send in the Feds, he told a crowd of law enforcement officers in Orlando that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is headed to Chicago. “We’re going to straighten it out, and we’re going to straighten it out fast,” he promised.
The one idea Trump presented to accomplish this was retooling the city’s use of stop-and-frisk, the policy of conducting warrantless stops to search people for weapons. It’s the same idea he was touting five years ago when he was little more than a reality-TV host dabbling in racist conspiracy theories.
“It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago,” he said Monday. “It was meant for it. Stop-and-frisk. And Rudy Giuliani, when he was mayor of New York City, had a very strong program of stop-and-frisk, and it went from an unacceptably dangerous city to one of the safest cities in the country and I think the safest big city in the country. So it works.”
As the Chicago Sun-Times notes, Chicago police currently use stop-and-frisk tactics, but they’re not unfettered. Street stops in Chicago are restricted by a settlement reached with the ACLU that, in theory at least, prevents the practice from veering into unconstitutional territory. Trump said Monday that the settlement is a “terrible deal” that should be changed.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was not keen on Trump’s suggestion. He said returning to an era of rampant and unrestricted stop-and-frisk, the kind that was ruled unconstitutional in New York City, would be “antithetical” to the “strong, pro-active, professional police department” the city is building.
“The failed policies he’s talking about have no place for a city that’s working together with communities about how to build — not only trust, but a collaborative and cooperative relationship,” Emanuel said.
Importantly, those procedures seem to be working. Police stats from the beginning of October showed that the number of shooting victims has fallen 18 percent from last year and the number of murders is down 20 percent. “It’s progress,” Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said last week. “We still have challenging days and we’re going to continue having some challenging days, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”