Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown was in Washington, DC Monday for a White House summit on crime, as President Joe Biden’s administration offers cities federal resources to help curb a growing tide of gun violence.
Violent crime has risen in a number of big cities this year, according to federal statistics. The talks at the White House Monday focused on federal government efforts to stop those trends, including the use of “strike forces” and more cooperation between local police departments and federal agencies like the FBI and ATF, among others.
Brown says that Chicago will receive more of that support from the government.
“There was a sense of urgency both from the president and his administration, along with Attorney General (Merrick) Garland, about what we can do now, and what resources we can add now.”
Brown was light on specifics, but said more federal manpower to fight illegal gun trafficking, and expedited conspiracy cases in the courts will help to shore up the work being down to cut down on crime.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she welcomes the White House’s involvement in combatting gun violence, saying that the city will welcome the “strike forces” and other law enforcement assistance tools. She did say that the city doesn’t need National Guard deployments, and should instead focus on other efforts.
“Making sure that the US Attorney’s Office, the ATF and other federal resources are really focused on stopping gun trafficking will make a world of difference here in the city,” she said.
Anti-violence groups in the city wonder if more federal intervention will actually change the results.
“You have to talk to the people who are actually on the ground doing the work every single day,” Lamar Johnson, a violence prevention coordinator at St. Sabina church, said.
Johnson helps to lead violence prevention efforts at the church, and says that violence is not a problem that can simply be solved by increasing police funding and staffing.
“You have David Brown going to the White House, and not one time has he sat down with community leaders who’s actually doing the work before you go speak to President Biden, because you can’t police your way out of this situation,” he said.
Vaughn Bryant leads more than a dozen partner organizations, working to reach Chicagoans most at-risk from gun violence.
“I’ve had guys tell me ‘I like the hustle, I like the adrenaline, I like the competition,’” he said. “But what they don’t realize is that in the legitimate world, they could be on Wall Street.”
Bryant says undoing decades of discrimination and disinvestment will take time, but the important work that his teams do is worth it, and will be effective.
“There’s no greater feeling than being a part of somebody’s life moving forward in a positive direction,” he said.