Mayor Rahm Emanuel lauded Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday for directing federal prosecutors to target the country’s most significant violent offenders.
"I want to commend Attorney General Sessions for taking action to prioritize the federal prosecution of those responsible for driving violent gun crime,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement. "The Attorney General and I agree on the need to increase federal gun prosecutions in Chicago, and strengthening this crime-fighting tool will be a welcome step for cities across the country."
Last month, Emanuel traveled to Washington to meet with members of President Donald Trump’s administration, including Sessions. The trip came on the heels of Emanuel’s very public back and forth with Trump, who warned local authorities in January that he would “send in the Feds” if they can’t get a handle on the ongoing “carnage” in Chicago.
A readout from the Department of Justice said Emanuel and Sessions discussed “what might be done to combat the shootings and murders in that city and bring back proactive community policing.”
On Wednesday, Sessions outlined his new plan to target violent criminals in a memo to federal prosecutors across the country, noting that they should work closely with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to suss out violent offenders in each district.
“Turning back our nation’s recent rise in violent crime is a top priority for the Department of Justice, and it requires decisive action from our federal prosecutors,” Sessions said in a statement. “I’m urging each of them to continue working closely with their counterparts at all levels, and to use every tool we have to put violent offenders behind bars and keep our citizens safe.”
Sessions’ new initiative builds on the creation of the U.S. Department of Justice Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which was announced last week. According to the DOJ, the task force is “central to the Attorney General’s commitment to combatting illegal immigration and violent crime, such as drug trafficking, gang violence and gun crimes, and to restoring public safety to all of the nation’s communities."
So far this year, Chicago has seen 110 homicides, according to the Chicago Tribune. In his statement, Emanuel pushed state lawmakers to adopt a similar approach to “ensure stronger sentences” for violent criminals and repeat gun offenders.
"In addition to these crucial law enforcement tools, we will continue to increase training for officers, to improve community policing strategies and to advocate for added investments in prevention, including job training, summer jobs, after-school programming and mentoring,” he said.
The Justice Department issued a scathing report in January that found that the Chicago Police Department violated constitutional rights by engaging in a “pattern or practice of use of excessive force.”
The highly anticipated report, released just one week before President Barack Obama left office, revealed landmark findings about the Chicago Police Department, aimed at eliciting change as the city battles a cloud of distrust as well as spiking violence. The city has entered into an agreement in principle with the DOJ to begin negotiations for a formal consent decree to implement the report’s findings.
However, Sessions announced last week that he would “pull back” on federal probes into local police departments and has failed to commit to Chicago’s consent decree, according to the Tribune.