‘Chicago Gun Strike Force’ – President Trump Rolls Federal Police Reinforcements into Chicago

“We the people—and those in Chicago—deserve America’s declaratory brand of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

President Donald Trump promised over and over that he’d readily send in federal law enforcers to help quell Chicago’s burgeoning gun violence and hemorrhaging homicide flow. He said he would do it and he did, outlined in a written plan directing a “gun strike force” to get things resolved in Chicago. As the sun dawned a new day, the Chicago Sun-Times cover flashed the words “They’re Here” illustrated by an image of a flak-jacketed ATF agent.

In response to Chicago’s festering malignancy of unrelenting gun violence, President Trump said, “I’m sending in federal help” to help cease Chi-town’s “horrible carnage.” Since Chicago is definitively a city in the larger context of the United States, and President Trump’s credo “Make America Great Again” is inclusive of the entire nation, it beholds assistance where it is so evidently needed.

Logistically, federal law enforcement officers are already in Chicago. Like any other metropolis in America, federal law enforcement agencies hub in regional offices, to include Chicago. The veritable alphabet soup of federal entities—FBI, ATF, DEA, CBP, US Marshals, ICE, US Secret Service, NPS, Federal Protective Service—have had established offices (presence) in the Windy City for many years. There are other federal agencies with law enforcement authority in Chicago, but those I listed are the main ones combating crimes other than white collar investigations.

As the nation’s third most populated city, it is traditional to have feds in regional territories with robust populations such as Chicago. Current data published by the National League of Cities indicates Chicago has approximately 2.7 million residents within its jurisdiction. Visitors and tourism fatten that number.

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has roughly 13,000 cops on its force, and its organizational flowchart extends across eight pages. CPD’s current citywide crime statistics indicate improvement in certain crime categories and decline in others, as denoted by red or green print. Year-to-date changes reflect murder and shootings are down 1 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

President Trump authorized federal cops, specifically agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to focus on gun violence and render support for the Chicago police force and surrounding agencies. Like most major cities across the United States, Chicago is a hub that already has one of ATF’s 25 field offices. So, technically, the federal arm has been there to embrace all along.

In a February 3rd article published by Reuters, an ATF special agent reportedly claimed, “ATF is exploring various options as we are committed to furthering law enforcement efforts in Chicago. One of those options is to send additional agents to Chicago on permanent transfers.” I found this tidbit enlightening, since it conveys a definitive difference between temporary abatement and permanent suppression regarding gang-related gun violence.

“We have received no word from the federal government to confirm these reports, but it would be welcome news if the [Trump] administration has indeed agreed to one of Mayor Emanuel’s requests for federal resources,” said Adam Collins, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s spokesperson. That sounds like passing the buck as well as implying the Trump camp has been irresponsive. The latter is untrue.

“We remain hopeful that they will also provide added DEA and FBI agents, that they will boost the prosecution rate for federal gun crimes in Chicago, and that they will provide funding for successful violence prevention efforts,” Collins added. Oh, the lovely political cat-and-mouse games some elected officials play.

On February 28, 2017 Mayor Emanuel published a pointed statement implying he is ready to work with the Trump administration and acknowledging his city’s gun violence plague. Emanuel wrote:

“We have repeatedly made specific requests of the administration for greater law enforcement integration and resources; a higher priority placed on federal gun prosecutions; and funds restored toward mentoring and after-school and summer jobs programs that have proven to be positive alternatives for our young people.”

“Because this is so important, I’ll always be ready with this list whenever the President asks. The better question, I’d suggest, is whether the President cares enough about violence in our city to do more than talk or tweet about it.”

Some of those words and the intonation behind them resemble an adversarial ingrate whose pride and ego are bruised. Grace and humility – 0. Arrogance – 10. Nevertheless, President Trump responds not only with words but with tangible resources—permanent ones.

“Chicago Gun Strike Force”

Despite Mayor Emanuel’s seeming indifference regarding the Trump administration, the Department of Justice (DoJ) welded a formidable framework. Attorney General Jeff Sessions published a declaratory statement outlining the “Chicago Gun Strike Force” and its objectives. The task force structure is adding “20 more permanent ATF agents to Chicago, reallocating federal prosecutors and prioritizing prosecutions to reduce gun violence, and working with law enforcement partners to stop the lawlessness.” That does not sound like an irresponsive presidency.

That engenders the recently passed House bill known as the Thin Blue Line Act, whereby any bona fide cop working alongside any federal law enforcement agent is effectively deputized and conferred with the fully-vested authority of applying federal codes. What that means for anyone nabbed by strike force agents is that prosecution will be under federal domain. Customarily, it never bodes well for bad guys with federal charges filed and prosecuted by US assistant attorney generals. It’s definitely game-time!

My interpretation of Mayor Emanuel’s tone is that President Trump’s defunding of sanctuary cities initiative looms over Rahm’s conscience, and that insecurity is being redirected at Mr. Trump. In effect, he harbors illegal immigrants and ill-regard for our 45th president.

Different Tune Regarding “Sanctuary City” Status

As you may recall, the arms of Chicago’s governance were more crossed than open when it came to President Trump’s executive orders regarding immigration enforcement and Chicago cops cooperating. Chicago Mayor Emanuel, formerly Obama’s White House chief of staff, ardently opposed President Trump’s immigration enforcement policies while touting his city’s newly developed Sanctuary City Supportive Resources. Besides the Trump defunding initiative, Mayor Emanuel’s sanctuary city domain places liability factors upon its taxpayers.

Mayor Emanuel dubbed his domain a “Welcoming City” and still stands in direct defiance of President Trump’s anti-illegal immigration executive orders. A byline buried in the Welcoming City text declared, “This means that Chicago police officers cannot arrest on the basis of immigration status.” Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance remains in effect.

In response to President Trump’s plan to cut funding to sanctuary cities, Mayor Emanuel replied, “That’s a joke.” Well, many do not find that funny at all.

Some of the mayor’s constituents lambasted his arrogance, especially while exuding a business-as-usual political attitude while homicides reach for higher strata. A Conservative Tribune piece published in April 2017 invoked the undercurrents in Chicago with Mayor Emanuel at the helm as well as in some crosshairs. A Chicago resident was quoted in the article as saying, “If he wants to thwart federal law, he should get what’s coming to him: loss of his mayorship and a nice warm jail cell.” No mincing words there…and no need to expound either. The US Constitution applies to everyone, no exceptions.

To (ahem) help with the Chicago crime problem, the House of Representatives passed the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act.” That sock-it-to-ya stride was achieved on June 29, 2017 and furthers the Trump administration’s executive orders to constitutionally enforce immigration laws. On several occasions, Mayor Emanuel declared an unwavering support for illegal immigrants and re-advertised his city as an invitation-open Mecca for potential deportees to nestle under his administration’s wings.

Albeit unspoken, I foresee the feds killing two birds with one stone here; quelling gun violence and immigration enforcement are both on the table. So, too, is the potential for federal agents and local politicos (sidelining local police) to clash…since both sides have opposing views in terms of immigration codes. Will federal agents addressing Chicago’s gun violence also take actions regarding illegal immigrants poking out from their hidden dens? Will Mayor Emanuel make attempts to limit the feds to gun violence enforcement while curtailing any immigration interests? Will local cops appreciate co-opted policing with the feds?

Like every other cop in the nation, I was on duty on 9/11/01. Without solicitation, every single law enforcement entity was provided a federal agent to ensure federal resources were availed to smaller non-federal jurisdictions, communications were relayed, and empirical legal guidance was available given the gravity of the terroristic acts, requiring cops to step out of the box.

I was assigned to liaise with an FBI agent who helped bolster our objectives for a few days. Our city’s demographics had a large and growing Muslim population, and apprehensions of retaliatory efforts were a realistic concern. Like Chicago, our city limits were a potential hotbed of incendiary proportion, and federal back-up was an investment in us locals: a gift.

Federal support and resources were unexpected and wholly appreciated. In this context, it is the people’s resources aiding others in need. It just happens to be endorsed by the president’s pen and for the right reasons. As AG Sessions summed it up, “The most critical factor to our success is the strength, training, and morale of the Chicago Police Department and all of our law enforcement partners. This administration is anxious to work toward this goal.”

So, send in the feds. What’s the worst thing that can happen, they call the president names? Like police officers, not everyone is pleased—but at least they know remarks mean someone recognizes you are working, like it or not. And if you are working for the common good, a clear conscience always performs optimally. There is no room on the table for sour grapes. If egos and pride can be closeted, a major win-win is knocking at the door.

Ultimately, it is the US president’s responsibility to ensure our laws are executed. And when states and cities abjectly refuse or seem anemic, it is the commander-in-chief’s right to step in and do what is apparently requisite. We the people—and those in Chicago—deserve America’s declaratory brand of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.