President Trump To Address Police Chiefs In Chicago Monday | WBEZ
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President Trump To Address Police Chiefs In Chicago Monday

Updated at 7:41 a.m. 

President Donald Trump is scheduled to be in Chicago Monday to address a group of police officials from around the world.

Trump is speaking at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which started Saturday and runs to Tuesday at McCormick Place.

The speech will be Trump’s first visit to Chicago since he became president. A planned Chicago event during the 2016 campaign was canceled due to large protests, and this week’s appearance is also expected to draw protesters.

More than 20 activist groups are planning a rally at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, across from Trump Tower. They're calling the protest "Trump, Get Out of Our House." The demonstrators say the rally will last throughout the day.

That protest will affect traffic in the area. No vehicles will be allowed to go northbound at Wacker and Wabash. Street closures north of the Chicago River and west of Michigan Avenue are likely.

The visit has already caused a kerfuffle within the Chicago Police Department. On Wednesday, the board of directors for the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Chicago issued a symbolic vote of no confidence against Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Lodge officials declined to comment on that vote, but an earlier FOP posting says a Johnson decision to skip Trump’s speech “would be an insult” to both the president and his office “and would be a mark of disgrace upon the city throughout the entire nation.”

In a statement, Johnson said he understands and respects that the union “is upset about the decision to not stand with the president.”

“As police officers, our job is to be the voice for the voiceless and ambassadors to the communities that we serve,” Johnson’s statement adds. “I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office, or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on New Americans.”

Chicago crime was a frequent topic on Trump’s Twitter during his campaign and early on in his presidency, but his attention to the city’s violence problem has waned over the last two years.

Just a few days after his inauguration, Trump tweeted that if Chicago did not fix the horrible “carnage” going on in its streets, he would “send in the Feds!” — a remark that left city officials scrambling to figure out what exactly the president meant. There was no public follow-up from the White House.

About six months later, the president again pledged to send in “Federal help” to deal with Chicago “crime and killings.” In October 2017, the Department of Justice awarded $500,000 to the city of Chicago to “implement various crime reduction strategy” as part of a plan to reinvigorate the federal government’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative.

On Thursday, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, put out a press release touting the success of the “revitalized Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative” in combating violent crime in Chicago.

“In the past three years our office in Chicago has substantially increased prosecutions of violent criminals, including trigger-pullers, drug traffickers, carjackers, and those who illegally use and possess firearms,” Lausch said in a statement. “We are using every available federal law enforcement tool to reduce violent crime and help keep our citizens safe.”

According to the Justice Department, the number of charged firearm defendants in fiscal year 2019 was 44% higher than 2018 and 60% higher than 2017.

On the campaign trail, Trump told a cable news show that Chicago should adopt a “stop-and-frisk” policy similar to the one in New York City that was deemed unconstitutional and racially discriminatory by a federal judge.

“When you have 3,000 people shot and so many people dying,” Trump said, “I think Chicago needs stop-and-frisk.”

Chicago police have long employed the practice of so-called stop-and-frisk to search people for guns. The city increased its use of the practice under former Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and as it intensified, a WBEZ investigation found officers seized fewer guns, detectives solved fewer murders and a decade-long decline in gun violence ended.

During his campaign for president, Trump told Fox News that he had spoken with an unnamed Chicago police officer who could stop most of the violence in Chicago “within one week” if officers were allowed to use “tough police tactics.”

Trump never identified the officer he spoke with, and a CPD spokesman said no one in the department’s senior command had ever met with Trump or his campaign up to that point.

While his comments about Chicago have been mostly negative, Trump has made frequent comments in support of law enforcement.

Last year, speaking at the same international police chiefs conference, this one held in Orlando, Florida, Trump said American law enforcement officers “are people of tremendous courage and strength.”

“America’s police officers have earned the everlasting gratitude of our nation,” Trump said at the conference. “In moments of danger and despair, you are the reason we never lose hope, because there are men and women in uniform who face down evil and stand for all that is good and just and decent and right.”

Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, is planning to attend the conference and said he will listen to the president’s speech on Monday.

“He has been supportive of law enforcement in general, and we are appreciative of that,” Wojcicki said.

Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice Desk. Follow him @pksmid. Email him at

WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell contributed to this story.

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