President Donald Trump has announced a federal task force to intervene in Chicago's murder epidemic. The task force will be comprised of local police and agents from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On June 30, Trump took to social media to announce the federal task force.
"Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help," Trump tweeted. "1714 shootings in Chicago this year!"
Attorney General Jeff Sessions later elaborated on the president's announcement.
"We're sending in additional gun investigators," Sessions told Fox News. "We've directed our U.S. attorneys to prosecute these gun cases aggressively. The police have been demoralized in many ways. They're not feeling feeling. The policies in Chicago have not been working. Murders are way way too high. Other cities like Chicago are far better off than Chicago."
After the interview, Sessions officially announced the establishment of the Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force, a collaboration between ATF agents, Chicago police, Illinois state troopers and prosecutors to curb the flow of illegal guns in the city and target repeat offenders in gun crimes.
"The Trump administration will not let the bloodshed go on; we cannot accept these levels of violence," Sessions said in a statement. The attorney general disclosed that the task force had already become operational on June 1, Reuters reports.
Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson released a statement welcoming the task force, asserting that it would be "more than just a new strategy or tactic."
"This new strike force will significantly help our police officers stem the flow of illegal guns and create a culture of accountability for the small subset of individuals and gangs who disproportionately drive violence in our city," Johnson said.
Adam Collins, a spokesman for Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, released a statement asserting that the task force was welcome, but long overdue. Collins also signaled that Emanuel was displeased with the language Trump has repeatedly used to describe their city.
"Apparently this morning the president saw fit to take a brief break from attacking journalists to attack one particular major U.S. city instead," Collins said, according to The New York Times. "If the president was as interested in taking action on public safety as he is in tweeting about it, we would have seen these resources months ago."
On Jan. 24, Trump tweeted out "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on... I will send in the Feds!"
Collins asserted that Emanuel would accept federal help despite his anger towards the president's unflattering social media depiction of Chicago.
"Six months ago we made it clear that we would welcome additional federal support, and six months later we appreciate 20 new ATF agents that are now arriving," Collins continued. "But the progress CPD has made this year has happened without any of the new resources from the federal government we requested.
In 2016, 760 Chicago residents were killed by gun violence. By the end of June 2016, the murder tally was at 322. As of June 30, there had been 320 in 2017, indicating that the murder rate has not been dramatically reduced. Despite this, the city has managed to reduce the number of shootings to 1,360 in 2017, compared to the 1,560 that occurred during the same timeframe in 2016.