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Rahm on Chicago murder spike: Was 'slow to react'

WASHINGTON — Mayor Rahm Emanuel said his administration was “slow to react” to a spike in Chicago’s murder rate, making a rare admission of a failing during a Thursday discussion here about governing the city.

Emanuel was in Washington for the second time in a week, returning to be at the White House on Thursday afternoon when President Barack Obama launches a new initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper Task Force,” a public-private-charitable foundation partnership aimed at “ improving life outcomes for boys and men of color.”

In the morning, Emanuel was the featured guest at a session at the Brookings Institution where he was interviewed by New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is a graduate of the University of Chicago who got a start in journalism working at Chicago’s old City News Bureau.

Brooks turned to Chicago’s “murder spike,” noting the killings made national headlines. “Just walk us through what you did and was it was like being in the middle of it,” asked Brooks.

Emanuel in response said what the city did—and what earlier on it did not do.

Crime has gone down, Emanuel said, with more police, prevention, penalties and parenting programs.

“We are making progress now but everyday is a real day in and day out you got to adopt different tactics,” Emanuel said.

“…We made some changes in the police department . I don’t think we were totally where we needed to be. And what I mean by that is we had arrested the gang leadership (in) part of my tenure correctly,” Emanuel said.

“So there was no leadership in these gangs. And they had broken down and dissolved and there was internecine gang warfare.

“So it wasn’t two gangs fighting each other. It was two groups inside of these gangs fighting each other for turf with leadership that was much younger than 30.

“They have a different perspective. And we as a police department and as a city, slow to react to that,” Emanuel said.

The mayor said “once we caught on what we were doing,” a series of new programs were put in place that reduced crime by “interceding before the retribution shooting.”