FBI Head, Police Chiefs Disagree On Impact Increased Scrutiny Having On Police Officers

CHICAGO (CBS) — A sharp disagreement emerged today between America’s top federal law enforcement official and local police chiefs meeting here in Chicago.

CBS 2 Chief correspondent Jay Levine says an issue first raised by Mayor Emanuel about camera shy cops has spread from city hall to city streets and all the way to the White House.

Chicago has not only become the poster child for gun violence, this week, it’s ground zero for the debate over what to do about it, with the FBI chief today, President Obama tomorrow and police chiefs from around the country here to listen to them. We went out to speak to some of those who weren’t invited.

The backdrop for the police chiefs: a banner about preventing gun violence.

“We’ve got a problem and we need to do something about it,” McCarthy said.

The backdrop for South Side community leaders: concrete blocks with the names of its victims.

“We have failed our young people and our children and it is time to own up,” said Diane Latiker of the group Kids Off The Block.

The backdrop for both groups was another weekend of violence in Chicago, more shootings, more killings and an FBI director here today and struggling to come up with a reason for it.

“In today’s Youtube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?” said FBI Director James Comey. “Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys with guns from standing around?”

The half-hearted applause for Comey from the chiefs was an indication not everyone agreed with that theory.

“My officers are working,” said McCarthy. “I absolutely know that. These men and women are out there putting their lives on the line every single day.”

But those who gathered today at what they called a kind of local wailing wall, said whatever McCarthy’s men and women were doing, wasn’t working, in part because of a lack of trust between people here and police.

At virtually the same moment, McCarthy announcing new police training to deal with that very problem, a lack of trust.

“Let’s just get right to the heart of this,” McCarthy said. “This training is not going to reverse 300 years of history in this country. That’s the first thing that we have to realize.”

McCarthy and his fellow police chiefs argued that easy access to guns was the real problem, with national background checks at the top of their wish list and stiffer sentences for gun crimes not far behind. Cellphone cameras, they admitted, may make cops a bit nervous, but it’s not interfering with crime-fighting.

When asked why law enforcement hasn’t been successful in the past, McCarthy said, “We know the answer to that. Were those senators voting based on what their constituents wanted? “At least some of those constituents wanted it. Probably those with the deepest pockets.”

McCarthy – apparently referring to the power of the NRA – was joined at the podium by Baltimore Police Chief Jim Johnson.

“Don’t you think you should be asking Congress that question?” McCarthy said. ” We’re law enforcement. Our job is to tell you the facts.”

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