Chicago was excoriated again on Friday by President Donald Trump as the poster city for American crime woes, the president's own Justice Department disclosed plans to send some additional federal prosecutors here.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that three more assistant U.S. attorneys will be joining the violent crime task force in Chicago. While that isn't a large number in an office of more than 150 prosecutors, Chicago has the highest number being allocated across the country in a new round of additional resources to fight a resurgence in U.S. violent crime.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago has seen numerous prosecutors leave in recent years, many to better paying jobs with private law firms. The I-Team reported in 2013 that nearly 25 assistant U.S. attorneys left in just a few month span. As the I-Team then reported in late 2016, criminal prosecutions by the Chicago office had declined about 30% in the past decade. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney on Friday said that 2017 figures were not yet available for the office.
"What the hell is going on in Chicago?" asked President Trump on Friday at a speech to law enforcement officials in Quantico, Virginia. "What the hell is happening there? for the second year in a row a person was shot in Chicago every three hours... you don't think people in the room can stop that... they'd stop it" said the president.
The actual number of shootings in Chicago is closer to a person shot every two hours.
Who's counting? The Chicago police department where officials say they are seeing glimmers of home in the numbers.
"With over 100 less murders and with 700 less shootings than last year as a result communities that were once under a cloud of gun violence are beginning to see signs of optimism and hope" said Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson.
There is optimism at the U.S. attorney's office for 2018...with new federal prosecutors on the way to Chicago and a new U.S. attorney just sworn in a few weeks ago. John Lausch was President Trump's appointee. He came from private practice after serving ten years as a prosecutor handling large federal gang and drug cases here.
Lausch is on a law enforcement hotseat-serving as the city's top federal justice department official at a time when his boss-the president-is regularly lambasting Chicago as the country's hub of violent crime. He will be looked to for answers... and increased prosecutions.