CHICAGO — For the fifth time since taking office, President Donald Trump blasted violence in Chicago Tuesday, saying it's worse in Chicago than in "some places in the Middle East where there are wars going on."
In the same meeting with the National Sheriffs' Association Tuesday morning at the White House, Trump incorrectly stated that "the country's murder rate is highest it's been in 45 to 47 years."
"If you ran Chicago, you would solve that nightmare, I'll tell you," Trump told the sheriffs gathered around his desk in the Oval Office. "I'll bet everybody in the room ... would raise their hand, because to allow, I mean literally hundreds of shootings a month, it's worse than some of the places that we read about in the Middle East where you have wars going on."
Matt McGrath, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said the president should back up his frequent criticisms with action.
“Instead of focusing so much energy on rhetoric about Chicago, the people of this city would be better off if the president would finally partner with us to improve public safety for Chicago,” McGrath said.
Emanuel has urged the president repeatedly to fund programs like summer jobs and create tougher gun laws while expanding the Police Department's partnership with the our partnerships with the Justice Department, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said police were working hard to make Chicago safer.
"We stand ready for an increased federal partnership to build upon our work," Johnson said. "As I've said before, we are asking for more federal agents and resources. We are asking for a higher rate of federal gun prosecution. We are asking for more funding for after-school and summer jobs programs that are proven to keep kids out of trouble."
During an event earlier this month to mark the beginning of Black History Month, Trump said violence in Chicago was "totally out of control."
After surging in 2016, violence in Chicago has shown no sign of slowing down in the first month of 2017, with just as many shootings and murders in January 2017 as in January 2016. Despite Trump's focus on Chicago, more than a dozen American cities have a higher per capita murder rate.
Since taking office 12 days ago, Trump has put Chicago's struggle with violent crime in the national spotlight four times — as he often did during the presidential election. In August, Trump told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that police could end the city's violence "in one week" if they wanted to.
Trump threatened Jan. 24 in a tweet to "send in the feds" unless Chicago officials "fix the horrible 'carnage'" in the city.
In addition, in his first television interview from the White House, Trump likened violence in Chicago to violence in Afghanistan.