Smart cops know better when Donald Trump does his Dirty Harry routine

The president said almost nothing Monday in Chicago about what really drives crime here and in every other big city, small town and rural crossroads. Rightfully, many police chiefs sat on their hands.

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President Donald Trump speaks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention at McCormick Place in 2019.

President Donald Trump speaks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention at McCormick Place on Monday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

President Donald Trump on Monday announced the creation of a commission to study the root causes of crime in America, such as homelessness, mental health issues and drug abuse.

If the commission is worth its salt, it should be able to agree immediately on this:

Trump talked like a fool in Chicago.

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In an tough-guy screed, before a gathering of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Trump trashed Chicago — an “embarrassment” to the nation — and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson. He also made it clear he sees only one way to fight crime — brute police force.

He excoriated Chicago for its crime rate, making no mention that crime here has been on the decline for nearly three years.

He again implied that Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city “protects criminals” who are driving up the local crime rate, contrary to the measurable fact that undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than the rest of us.

And, once again, he brought up that weird claim that he once talked to a Chicago cop who said the police could clean up the city in days if only the mayor and police chief were real leaders.

Well, golly. If you bump into one cop who says such a thing, it must be true.

As Johnson said later in the day, if such a miracle worker exists, we should all “bow down” to him and say“bring it on.”

Trump said almost nothing about what really drives crime in Chicago and every other big city, small town and rural crossroads. He said nothing about those “root” causes that his new commission is supposed to study, save for an obligatory lament — because it was on his teleprompter — about drug abuse.

The president’s Dirty Harry routine went over well with some cops in the room. They cheered like at a Trump rally. But other cops — smart and thoughtful police chiefs who have been around — sat on their hands.

They knew Trump was spouting his usual, um, malarkey. They knew how real crime-fighting works. An effective police force works with an entire community; it’s not an occupying force.

When Trump gives a speech, he is almost never talking to the people in the room, except at one of his MAGA rallies. Every speech to any group — FBI agents, Boy Scouts, Medal of Honor winners, football players — becomes a self-serving political rant.

Trump wants to rile up his base and feel good. That’s all he’s got. And he can’t feel good if he’s not putting somebody down.

Don’t be confused by Trump’s circus on Monday, fellow Chicagoans.

The police are on our side, no matter how much we may find fault with them.

Even if this president is not.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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