CHICAGO (CBS) — In a speech to police chiefs from across the country, President Donald Trump on Monday criticized Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson for skipping the event, saying “more than anyone else, this person should be here, because maybe he could learn something.”
Johnson last week said he would not attend the president’s speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference at McCormick Place, “because the values of the people of Chicago are more important than anything that he would have to say.”
“That’s a very insulting statement after all I’ve done for the police, and I’ve done more than any other president’s ever done for the police,” Trump said. “Here’s a man that could not bother to show up for a meeting of police chiefs, the most respected people in the country, in his hometown, and with the president of the United States, and you know why. It’s because he’s not doing his job.”
Trump also lamented city’s struggles with violent crime, noting there were 565 murders in Chicago in 2018, and more than 1,500 since Johnson took office in 2016.
“Under Johnson’s leadership, they certainly don’t protect people,” Trump said.
At a news conference called after Trump’s speech, Johnson pointed to the work his officers have done to reduce violent crime by double digits, three years in a row.
“After today, I am not going to comment on this anymore, because we have bigger challenges in this city than to be going back and forth on stuff like this,” Johnson said. “I have been a cop for 31 years, I have been superintendent for almost four years, I have dedicated my life to keeping this city safe and that is my focus.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized violent crime in Chicago, and in his speech claimed “Afghanistan is a safe place in comparison.”
“I want Eddie Johnson to change his values, and change them fast,” Trump said.
However, while Chicago saw more than 700 murders in 2016, the number of homicides decreased in both 2017 and 2018, and so far this year, the city is on pace to have fewer murders than 2018.
Meantime, Trump also repeated one of his favorite stories about a mystery police officer who told him he has a quick fix for murders and violent crime in Chicago. Johnson said that nobody has ever been able to corrorbate the president’s claim. “We spend a lot of time trying to identify this person because if there is somebody that can stop crime in a day, then I will bow down to them and say, bring it on. That’s just not going to happen”
The president said the officer was leading a brigade of motorcycle cops escorting his motorcade in Chicago in 2016.
“The leader of the brigade was this really powerful strong looking guy, big booming voice, and he was definitely the boss,” he said.
After arriving at the airport to leave the city, Trump claimed he asked the officer “What the hell is happening in Chicago?”
Trump said the officer told him, “there’s no leadership from the mayor, and there’s none at the top of the Police Department. They’re afraid to do anything.”
The president also claimed he asked the officer how quickly he could solve the city’s violent crime problems if he were in charge.
“He looked at me and said, ‘One day sir,’” Trump claimed. “We could straighten it out so quickly that your head would spin.”
Trump’s story about the officer began on the campaign trail in 2016, but neither the president nor the White House has ever named the officer, and the Chicago Police Department repeatedly has said it has been unable to identify any officer who had a conversation with Trump about solving crime.”
The president also criticized the city’s “welcoming city” ordinance, which protects undocumented immigrants from being held for immigration authorities, unless they have been convicted of a serious crime or are being sought on a criminal warrant. Trump said the city has denied hundreds of detainer requests from the federal government
“We want to stop crime, please detain 1,162 people, please, but in each case the detainer was denied, and Eddie Johnson wants to talk about values? No. People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago,” Trump said.
Following his speech, the president signed an executive order creating a commission to study the root causes of crime, and to examine the best practices for recruiting, hiring, and training police officers. The president said the panel would look into what impact issues such as mental illness and homelessness have on crime, and come up with recommendations for better recruiting and training law enforcement officers.
After his speech, the president was scheduled to attend fundraiser at Trump Tower, where his campaign is expected to raise about $4 million.
It was Trump’s first visit to Chicago since he was elected president. He hadn’t been in Chicago since September 2016, when he attended a private event at the Polish National Alliance in the Sauganash neighborhood, followed by a fundraiser in Bolingbrook.
He also visited Chicago in March 2016, but his visit was cut short when a campaign rally at the UIC Pavilion was cancelled minutes before he was set to take the stage, amid a firestorm of protests both for and against Trump.