Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she welcomes federal help in addressing gun violence in the city, but she pushed back Monday against the idea of having the National Guard come into the picture in a law enforcement capacity.
Lightfoot, speaking at a press availability, says that she supports a variety of federal responses to the problem of gun violence, including additional “strike force” teams offered by President Joe Biden, along with resources from the FBI and other agencies.
“We’ve been in conversation with them about our sense of urgency around getting these resources up and activated,” she said. “I think the primary thing they’re going to do is really build upon the work that’s already being done in conjunction with our federal partners and CPD.”
Lightfoot says her focus is largely on stopping gun trafficking, which she blames for bringing illegal weapons into the city.
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“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.
While the National Guard was activated during unrest in the city following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Lightfoot says that the Guard is not the type of federal resource that she is seeking, and that other agencies can provide more appropriate assistance.
“I don’t think that the National Guard is the kind of resource that we would need,” she said. “What we need are people that are trained in local law enforcement, and that is folks like the ATF, DEA and FBI. Those are the kind of resources that I think would really have the maximum impact at this time.”
Amid the discussions of how to address gun violence is an undercurrent of acrimony between Chicago police union leadership, including FOP President John Catanzara, and Lightfoot. Despite their bitter public feud, Catanzara says that the police union has reached a new contract with the city, including four years of backpay that will cover the time the union has been without a contract.
“A lot of people thought this was impossible, but all I can tell you is we came to a fair agreement here,” he said.
Lightfoot disputes that characterization, saying that her team is still reading over the documents and offers.
“My team is evaluating the proposal, and we’ll have more to say about it,” she said. “Unfortunately, Mr. Catanzara’s announcement that there was a deal wasn’t correct.”