Politics

Trump Urges Chicago Cops to Adopt ‘Stop and Frisk’

President defends his White House administration's tough-on-crime policy in speech to police chiefs from around the world

Image Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Monday vowed to tackle Chicago’s crime problem and urged city law enforcement officials to adopt controversial tactics to restore order.

Trump said at a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Orlando, Florida, that Chicago should instruct its police officers to implement a program known as “stop and frisk,” in which officers aggressively patrol high-crime neighborhoods and pat down people who might have guns or other contraband.

“It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago,” he said. “It was meant for it. Stop and frisk.”

Trump credited stop-and-frisk policies for a huge drop in crime in New York City under then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

“It went from an unacceptably dangerous city to one of the safest cities in the country,” he said.

New York maintained the policy under Giuliani’s successor, Michael Bloomberg. But it sparked a backlash among civil libertarians, who argued that the policy was heavy-handed and that it unfairly targeted minority communities. The current mayor, Bill de Blasio, ended the practice.

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Trump also urged Chicago to change a court settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union that, he said, ties the hands of police officers. The agreement imposed new rules governing how police officers execute traffic stops.

Critics have argued that the onerous rules have led police to stop fewer people, endangering public safety.

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Whatever the cause, there’s no doubt in recent years that Chicago has been an outlier in violence. So far this year, 2,346 people have been shot in the Windy City. That actually represents an improvement compared with last year’s bloody pace but is ahead of the totals at this point in each of the five years prior to that.

“The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city,” Trump said. “And we’ll do everything possible to get it done.”

Trump touched on a number of topics in his address to the IACP, from crime in a general sense and his support of law enforcement to his embattled deputy attorney general and the new Supreme Court justice.

The president, who was then scheduled to preside over a ceremonial swearing-in of Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Monday evening, blasted the jurist’s critics. He dismissed the sexual-assault accusations that nearly derailed the nomination.

Related: Chicagoans Agree Leadership Is Key to Ending Violence Epidemic

“He’s a great person, and it was very, very unfair what happened to him — false charges, false accusations, horrible statements that were totally untrue that he knew nothing about,” he said. “Frankly, terms that he probably never heard in his life. It was a disgraceful situation brought about by people that were evil. And he toughed it out. We all toughed it out together.”

Trump also alluded to the media buzz arising from the revelation that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein accompanied him to Orlando on Air Force One. Last month, the conventional wisdom was that Rosenstein was about to be fired after The New York Times published a story that he had spoken about secretly recording the president and of recruiting Cabinet members to remove the president from office under the 25th Amendment.

Rosenstein denied the story, claiming he was being sarcastic, and Trump did not fire him.

“The press wanted to know, ‘What did you talk about?’ We had a very good talk, I will say,” Trump told the police chiefs, without going into details.

The president defended his administration’s crime policies. He announced the administration would spend $42.4 million for 50 projects under the auspices of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program to attack the country’s opioid epidemic.

“We are taking back our streets from drug lords, gangs, and criminals. We are being tough. We are being smart.”

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, Trump said, the Department of Justice filed charges against the most federal firearms defendants in history. He noted that the country saw 128,000 more violent crimes in 2015 and 2016 than the previous two years. The nation also experienced the biggest two-year increase in murders in a half-century.

“But we are turning that tide around very rapidly, as you know,” he said. “We are taking back our streets from drug lords, gangs, and criminals. We are being tough. We are being smart.”

Trump called for the swift application of the death penalty for cop killers and noted that he reversed a policy of his predecessor to stop making surplus military equipment available to local police forces. Then-President Barack Obama changed the policy out of concerns that the “militarization” of local police was causing citizens to lose confidence in law enforcement.

The president’s parting message was simple — that he supports the men and women on the front lines of the fight against crime.

“We promise you that we will always have your back, now and forever,” he said. “We will always have your back.”

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