Donald Trump said “tough police tactics” could solve Chicago’s troubles with crime in a matter of days.
During a discussion on crime and policing Monday night on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” the Republican presidential nominee said he had met an impressive senior officer in the Chicago Police Department, who said he could end the city’s crime in “one week.” Pressed by host Bill O’Reilly on specifics of the crime-fighting strategy, Trump offered a vague reply.
“How? By being very much tougher than they are now. They’re right now not tough,” Trump said.
Trump said the officer was one of a “couple of very top police” with whom he had talked during a recent visit to the city, though that officer was not the superintendent of police. Trump was clear that CPD does not have “the right people in charge.” A CPD spokesman said Trump has never talked to a senior officer.
“All I know is this, I went to a top police officer in Chicago, who is not the police chief, I could see by the way he was dealing with his people he was a rough, tough guy, they respected him greatly,” Trump said. “I said, ‘How do you think you do it?’ He said, ‘Mr. Trump within one week we could stop much of this horror show that’s going on.’ ”
CPD spokesman Frank Giancamilli said Tuesday that no such conversation took place.
“No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign,” Giancamilli said.
Pressed again by O’Reilly on the unnamed officer’s crime-fighting plans, Trump offered that undefined “tough” measures were all the city needs.
“He wants to use tough police tactics, which is OK when you have people being killed,” Trump said.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks on Tuesday clarified that it was during Trump’s visit “in the spring,” presumably his March trip that included a rally at University of Illinois at Chicago that was canceled because of security concerns by the GOP candidate. Trump has said that the rally was shut down at the request of CPD, a claim interim Supt. John Escalante immediately said was false.
Police tactics have been controversial in recent months, as the city’s homicide total has spiraled upward, toward some of the highest figures in a decade. Meanwhile, the CPD has come under intense scrutiny from activists and the U.S. Department of Justice, which opened an investigation in December into allegations of widespread civil rights abuses by police.
Nearly 450 people have been killed in the city so far this year, nearly as many as during all of 2015. Giancamilli noted that gun seizures have increased by 23 percent, and gun arrests are up 6 percent, while CPD is pursuing a community policing strategy that will rebuild the fractured trust between the department and residents.
“The best way to address crime is through a commitment to community policing and a commitment to stronger laws to keep illegal guns and repeat violent offenders off the street,” Giancamilli said.