CHICAGO — Two political powerhouses engaged in a policy feud over one of Chicago's most pressing challenges, gun violence.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle penned a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasting Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
"I made it quite clear that we do not agree with the false narrative promulgated by the superintendent of police that the challenge that we face is a result of our criminal justice reform work," Preckwinkle said. "It’s not as he suggested the result of judges allowing people who need to be in jail to be out on the streets."
Preckwinkle accused Johnson of finger-pointing to deflect from the Chicago Police Department’s dismal rate of solving murders.
"The problem we have is there’s a clearance rate for murders in Chicago that’s one of the lowest in the country," Preckwinkle said. "The superintendent needs to figure out how to improve his closure rate for murders and for shootings if we’re gonna address the violence in our neighborhoods. I said during the campaign that he should be relieved of his responsibilities and that’s still my position."
Then, the mayor jabbed her former campaign rival.
"It’s July, not March, the election’s over and we had a result, so we’re going to continue to take the high road and move forward," Lightfoot said. "Yes, bail reform is important, but it matters how we’re making decisions about who gets bond. My proposal is that we all put our data out on a weekly basis and see who’s getting arrested, what are the charges and what are the bond decisions being made."
The Fraternal Order of Police weighed in with a statement:
Ms. Preckwinkle ignores the overwhelming evidence that CCSA Kimberly Foxx is not working with the police, but against them. Her bail reform strategies are part of that pattern, along with her willingness to release convicted killers on frivolous claims of wrongful conviction.
Duane Deskins was a federal prosecutor for more than 30 years working in Boston, Los Angeles and Cleveland. He says he was stunned to learn Chicago doesn’t do more to protect witnesses.
"If you want to make wine you have to protect your grapes; if you want to make cases, you have to protect your witnesses and one of the things we hear is that people feel afraid to come forward because they are afraid of retaliation," Deskins said.
Both Preckwinkle and Lightfoot said all parties need to be working collectively to make Chicago safer. Now, that they’ve feuded publicly, we’ll see if they work together.