Facing war-like homicide rates in Chicago – exceeding the murders in Los Angeles and New York City, combined — President Donald Trump is threatening to “send in the Feds.”
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
The left is not happy.
In a CNN op-ed, Nicole Van Cleve laments Trump’s tweet as racist. Trump, she implies, thinks the solution is to see black citizens accosted on the street. But there’s something putrid with this pretense of racial solidarity because it is nothing of the sort. Opposing action, Van Cleve and co. empower those who take black lives.
And the loss of black lives is the crisis in Chicago. Remember, the vast majority of Windy City murder victims are young black men. And the vast majority of murderers are also young black men. Too often it is seen as politically incorrect to explain this reality. But it is the reality.
Of course, that reality demands a solution. So, what do we do?
As I noted recently, one key concern is Chicago’s rot under decades of liberal governance. Taxes have deterred investment and the attraction of good new jobs. Chicago schools are run by a union far more interested in its own enrichment than the empowerment of young futures. And too many black families are single parent homes. Put simply, young black kids in Chicago are caught in a cycle of crap schools, absent parenting, and dominant gangs. It is a prison from which far too few escape.
And, for me at least, this legacy of suffering is sufficient rationale for Trump’s tweet. The President is right to draw attention to what is happening in a landmark American city. More than that, he’s right to believe he can make things better. Here are a few ideas on how “sending in the Feds” would help.
First off, an expansion of Federal law enforcement in Chicago would allow for longer term, high-level targeting operations against gangs. Specifically, the FBI, ATF, and DEA Chicago Field offices would get more agents and resources to conclude active investigations against gang leaders and operations. The expansion of Federal mafia-focused racketeering prosecutions would also be helpful in decapitating gang leaderships and deterring successor replacements. This would allow, for example, gang leaders to be prosecuted for allowing their subordinates to travel in possession of firearms. And an expanded interagency Federal-local task force in Chicago could also act creatively. For one, we might see more Capone-style tax prosecutions.
However, in the long term, making Chicago safer will take more than the Federal government. It will require a wholesale change to the way in which Chicago is governed. It will require better, safer schools with more parental choice in schooling options. It will need a cultural shift away from short-term satisfaction. And it will require a local economy that takes comfort in a balanced city budget and attractive tax rates. It will also take reforms of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The CPD needs more officers. In order to pay for that, pension reforms are necessary. The CPD should also undertake common-sense measures to improve its relationship with minority citizens.
Still, there is room for consensus between Republicans and Democrats. Consider the one good point Van Cleve makes in her CNN op-ed. She notes that the Chicago Police Department has done too little to protect informants from retaliation. She is absolutely correct. Redressing this situation isn’t just an urgent demand of more efficient policing, it’s a moral responsibility. The CPD should take the example from the CIA. CIA officers prioritize the protection of their agents. They know that if their agents are compromised, they will be arrested, tortured, or killed. And if the CIA gets a reputation for failing to protect its agents, then very few individuals will be inclined to spy for the CIA in the future. The CPD should recognize the shared truths that sustain here. And the city government should ensure that CPD has the resources and support it needs to reward and protect informants.
Nevertheless, we should not judge Trump for tweeting about Chicago. That city is a human catastrophe. The former President saw little interest in strengthening his hometown, but we should not lament the incumbent President’s perspective.