BRIDGEPORT — Six months after President Donald Trump threatened to "send in the feds" to combat gun and gang violence in Chicago, the city is finally getting new federal crime-fighting resources, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday.
Emanuel, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced that the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had deployed a high-tech van in Chicago that can immediately test guns and shell casings at crime scenes throughout the city, according to a statement from the mayor's office.
"I'm glad the feds have arrived," Durbin said at the press conference at the Deering police district headquarters.
The van first hit Chicago's streets three weeks ago, and is scheduled to remain in the city until the end of July — but Emanuel, Johnson and Durbin said they would ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to allow the van to stay until Labor Day.
"Chicago needs this van full time," Durbin said.
Sen. Dick Durbin said the van was a "high tech" way for officers to "connect the dots" between weapons used in violent crimes. [DNAinfo/Heather Cherone]
Johnson said the effort to fight violent crime in Chicago required an "an all hands on deck" approach.
Emanuel said the van's lab — which feeds evidence collected at the scene into a national database and can produce results within hours as compared with the days it would take the Police Department to find a match — would be particularly helpful in trying to stem the tide of crimes committed with rifles in Brighton Park.
Johnson said no one had been arrested and charged based on evidence analyzed by the van in the last three weeks, but that weapons had been linked to multiple crimes. More evidence was collected and analyzed this weekend in Chicago by the van than during the month the van spent in Baltimore, Durbin said.
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The number of shootings in May dropped about 19 percent from May 2016, and murders were down 15 percent, according to DNAinfo data.
But violence in the city has remained higher throughout 2017 than it was in years past, and there have been about as many people killed in shootings this year as in 2016.
Trump has repeatedly criticized violence in Chicago, asking at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday: "Look at Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? What's that all about?" Trump said.
Trump's question — which he has asked in some form nearly a dozen times since taking office — prompted many to post sarcastic responses on Twitter, noting that summer is in full swing in Chicago.
In response to Trump's taunts and tweets, Emanuel repeatedly asked for more federal agents to combat crime in violence-plagued neighborhoods, after-school help for Chicago's kids and renovating mass transit that runs through the South and West Sides.
The van can analyze ballistics evidence in hours, rather than days, officials said. [DNAinfo/Heather Cherone]