A series of raids conducted by the Chicago Police Department from Thursday night into Friday morning across the South and West sides netted 81 arrests, mostly for drug- and weapons-related crimes, officials announced Friday.
At a news conference detailing the operation, Supt. Eddie Johnson said police focused on “the underlying source of crime in these areas: the sale of narcotics.”
The raids were primarily focused in the Englewood, Harrison and Austin districts, but also included the Grand Crossing, Ogden, Near West, Calumet and Grand Central districts.
Of those 81 people arrested, Johnson said, 61 have prior felony convictions, 49 are documented gang members and 19 have previously been arrested on gun charges. Chicago Police had previously identified 65 of the arrested as more likely to be a victim or offender in a shooting.
Twelve guns — including a machine gun — were also seized by police. Anthony Riccio, Chief of the Bureau of Organized Crime, said about 40 more people are still being sought by police in connection with the raids, which were planned for about three weeks.
Despite the dozens of arrests, Johnson once again called on legislators at every level of government to help with stemming Chicago rampant shootings.
“CPD can do better, our judicial system can do better, our state legislators can do better. It takes all of us,” Johnson said. “If you’re OK every day sitting by watching these people die and that’s OK with you, then good luck on that. But if you care at all, you should be helping the city do something about this violence.”
Riccio said the raids were executed only by Chicago Police with no federal assistance.
“This was strictly a CPD operation,” he said, adding that federal agents assisted in another recent CPD effort and will be involved in a series of raids next month.
The raids also came just hours after President Donald Trump once again put the spotlight on Chicago gun violence, Tweeting Thursday evening: “Seven people shot and killed yesterday in Chicago. What is going on there – totally out of control. Chicago needs help!”
Chicago’s gun violence was a frequent target of Trump’s during the presidential campaign, and he has brought the issue up several times since taking the oath of office.
Seven people shot and killed yesterday in Chicago. What is going on there - totally out of control. Chicago needs help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
Seven people were fatally shot in Chicago Wednesday, making it the deadliest day of 2017 so far. A Chicago Sun-Times analysis of city crime data found it was the 21st time since 2001 that at least seven people were killed in a single day.
After Trump threatened to “send in the Feds!” last month, 20 additional agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were reassigned to Chicago.
U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth have taken to Twitter, calling on Trump to act on Chicago gun violence.
“Yet again, I urge the Pres to stop tweeting & provide critical fed resources for econ development, mentoring & jobs to address Chicago violence,” Durbin Tweeted Friday.
Yet again, I urge the Pres to stop tweeting&provide critical fed resources for econ development, mentoring&jobs to address Chicago violence https://t.co/YivjoX2Yjk— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) February 24, 2017
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and discuss “what might be done to combat the shootings and bring back proactive community policing,” according to a Justice Department spokesman.
“We are almost double in gun arrests than we were [at] the same time last year. That’s a ridiculous number,” Johnson said Friday. “That kills the notion that the police department is sitting on their heels, not being proactive, not doing anything about it. We actually are doing something about it.”
“It’s amazing to me that we don’t get more help, but CPD will keep doing its part, and we’ll keep taking these bad guys off the streets,” Johnson said.