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Mayor Emanuel defends Chicago’s handling of shooting sprees

Updated: October 4, 2012 6:22AM



CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended his handling of shooting sprees that have plagued Chicago in a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” rejecting a suggestion he was having a hard time stopping crime. “We’re containing it,” he said.

Emanuel was booked on the show to preview the Democratic National Convention, and review the just wrapped up Republican National Convention, where Mitt Romney officially became the GOP nominee.

After covering national politics, host David Gregory said he wanted to talk “about a huge crisis in your own city, and that is, of course, the murder rate. It’s up 31 percent from a year ago — 40 shootings just last weekend, nine left dead, a couple of people shot even near the president’s home on the South Side. What are you doing to address this?”

Emanuel replied, “First, we put more police on the street, getting kids, guns and drugs off the street. Our crime rate is down 10 percent and, in fact, our shootings have declined from what was — basically, we lost the early part of the first quarter of the year, and we’ve brought them dramatically down. We have a gang issue on parts of the city overall. Overall crime, down 10 percent, and we’re making efforts, actually to reduce the gang conflicts because it’s gang-on-gang issues. It does not affect the whole city, but anywhere it happens, we’re going to be dealing with it.”

Gregory, following up, asked, “Is this not a crisis, in your estimation? Is it something that’s being overblown or is this something that you have a hard time containing at the moment?”

Emanuel, rejecting the premise of the question said, “No, we’re containing it, and the question I have is not whether people say a crisis or a challenge — I’m going to do everything I can to make sure every child, when they’re going to school, can think about their studies not their safety, regardless of where they live, and that’s my first priority.”

Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have been struggling to control a 31 percent surge in Chicago homicides fueled by gang violence that has become a media obsession, both locally and nationally. Last week, after another weekend bloodbath that included nine more homicides, McCarthy was told reporters his officers were “treading water” in the fight against gang violence. Emanuel was forced to clarify the remark and say his handpicked superintendent was simply talking about a handful of neighborhoods.

Late last week, the mayor and superintendent announced that anti-violence strategies that have flooded Chicago’s two most violent police districts — Englewood and Harrison — with officers working hand-in-glove with federal agents, would be expanded to two more districts experiencing a surge in shootings.

Watch Mayor Emanuel on "Meet the Press"


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