CHICAGO — President Donald Trump is planning to visit Chicago for the first time in his presidency Monday.
Trump is scheduled to speak at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference at McCormick Place.
But while he is hosting the chiefs, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson will not be there for the president’s speech
In a statement Johnson said
I look forward to hosting America’s police chiefs and collaborating on the best ways to keep our cities safe in the upcoming week. However, I will not be attending the president’s speech because the values of the people of Chicago are more important than anything he would have to say.
Police union president Kevin Graham said Johnson is making a mistake.
“I think that is a disservice,” he said. “I believe it’s going to be a positive message to law-enforcement which we don’t always get.”
Graham said he believes Johnson is playing politics. He also said he believes Trump’s justice department has dedicated federal agents and prosecutors specifically helping to fight gun crimes, getting the criminals responsible and the weaponry they possess off the streets.
“Oftentimes we forget what the president has done,” he said. “He has sent in federal law-enforcement officers and a lot of these gun crimes not being prosecuted in Cook County are being prosecuted by the feds
Graham said he plans to meet with Trump.
Trump has given the “city of big shoulders” the cold shoulder far more often than his predecessors, according to data maintained by CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller. George W. Bush had visited Chicago 7 times at the same point in his presidency. Not surprisingly Barack Obama traveled home to Chicago more often, registering 10 visits at this point in his presidency. Knoller’s numbers also show President Trump has only been to Illinois twice in his presidency, compared with 10 visits by President George W. Bush and 13 visits by President Obama.
Chicago has been a frequent and favorite target for criticism by Trump.
“The crime spree is a terrible blight,” Trump said during a speech last year to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In 2017, Trump repeated a familiar refrain about crime asking rhetorically “What the hell is going on in Chicago?” He has also repeatedly called the city a “disaster.”
The president’s criticisms came despite progress in the fight against violence. Murders are down 11% year-to-date and 31% over the last three years, according to Chicago police data. Shootings are down 11% year-to-date and 39% over the last three years.
The last time Trump publicly commented on Chicago was an October 1 tweet in which he wrote “great job, just in time” to the O’Hare airport ramp worker who used a vehicle to stop an out-of-control beverage cart from hitting a parked airplane.