One day after President Donald Trump vowed in a tweet to send “the feds” to Chicago if the city does not address its longstanding plague of violence, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would welcome the move.
"Chicago, like other cities right now that are dealing with gun violence, wants the partnership with federal law enforcement entities in a more significant way than we’re having today," Emanuel said.
He noted, however, that the move must come in partnership with local agencies, and not simply by replacing them.
Trump isn't the first to broach the idea that the U.S. government could do more to help stem predominantly gang-related violence on Chicago's South and West sides. But now, as on earlier occasions, what more the federal government can do isn't at all clear.
The most direct — and most extreme — intervention would be sending National Guard troops into Chicago to try and tamp the violence. Both the U.S. president and the Illinois governor have the authority to mobilize the Illinois National Guard. But a federal statute, known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, prohibits the deployment of federal troops in civil law enforcement.
When someone asked Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner about the possibility in August, he ruled it out.
"The National Guard has nothing to do with public safety," Emanuel said. "Those entities are set up to partner with local law enforcement."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that President Trump met with Emanuel previously and offered up federal resources, if asked for.
"That return call for help has not occurred," Spicer said during his daily press briefing.
He noted that if Gov. Bruce Rauner asks for it, other aid can be extended as well.
“I think what the president is upset about is turning on the television and seeing Americans killed by shootings," Spicer said, adding that no American should feel unsafe or fear for their lives while walking down the street, but "too often that's happening in Chicago."
Trump tweeted Tuesday that "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on" he will "send in the Feds."
A statement from the Chicago Police Department on Tuesday night said the city's law enforcement would welcome an interagency effort.
January could go down as a record-setting month for shootings and homicides in the city.
Anthony Guglielmi, a department spokesperson, said January has seen 39 homicides as of Tuesday night.
Data made available by the department show 2016 was one of the most violent years in the city since the mid '90s, with more than 750 murders reported. To combat the rise in violence, police aim to tailor response to different neighborhoods and crack down on repeat violent offenders.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson responded to the president's tweet with one of his own, saying: "We need a plan, not a threat."
Emanuel said the answer to the city's unyielding violence can be found in police training, supervision and pro-active policing. Emanuel has repeatedly spoken against the controversial stop-and-frisk tactics promoted by Trump during his campaign.
"We need our police to have high professional standards, the training to support them in those high professional standards and the certainty to be proactively involved," Emanuel said. “If you look at the last year across the country and then say, ‘The only answer is to go to stop-and-frisk. That’s it,’ that’s not where the world is today.”
Emanuel and other area leaders, including Supt. Johnson and Sen. Dick Durbin, has argued that stopping illegal guns from getting into the wrong hands is crucial to stemming area violence.
Rev. Michael Pfleger, a renowned Chicago activist, posted a heated statement on Facebook shortly after Trump's tweet.
"If it's federal resources, don’t wait… SEND THEM NOW!” Pfleger wrote. “If he’s talking about federal troops, stop-and-frisk and militarized police, which I believe he is… ABSOLUTELY NOT!”
He added that all Chicago officials, police, business leaders, churches and communities need to “stop this or expect soldiers on our streets.”
A spokesperson for Rauner declined to comment on the president’s tweet.