President Donald Trump drew an enthusiastic response from a law-and-order crowd Monday, advocating the use of "stop and frisk" policing and saying he has directed the Justice Department to work with local officials in Chicago to stem violence in the nation's third-largest city.
"The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city," he said at a convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Trump said he had ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "immediately" go to Chicago and encouraged it to embrace the stop-and-frisk policing method that was used in New York City until it was deemed unconstitutional because of its overwhelming impact on minority residents.
"Gotta be properly applied, but stop-and-frisk works," Trump said.
It was unclear exactly what the president had ordered of his attorney general. The White House and Justice Department didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump traveled to Orlando with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Chicago police said last week that there have been 102 fewer homicides and nearly 500 fewer shooting victims in the city this year, compared with the first nine months of 2017.
Just weeks before the midterm elections, Trump accused Democrats of being soft on crime.
"The Democrats fight us at every turn. Whether it's law enforcement or military. They fight us at every turn. And we win," Trump said.
He singled out politicians who have criticized police, often in the wake of shootings of young, black men, saying, "Politicians who spread dangerous anti-police sentiment make life easier for criminals and more dangerous for law-abiding citizens."
And he blamed "evil" people for nearly sinking his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, saying, "It was a disgraceful situation."
Trump said Kavanaugh would be "a faithful defender of the rule of law."
Hours before Trump addressed the police chiefs, a handful of protesters outside the Orange County Convention Center waved signs reading "Sexual Predators Belong in Jail Not as President or Supreme Court" and "We Wish You Were Fake News."
Trump also heralded recent declines in unemployment as a positive step toward lower crime rates. He said he was working hard on the opioid crisis and announced more than $42 million in new grant funding for innovative projects to fight the drug epidemic.
The money will fund more than 50 innovative projects through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program.
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Washington and Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this report.