Chicago getting more crime-fighting cash: U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter November 25, 2013 6:51PM
Updated: December 27, 2013 6:25AM
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised extra federal cash to fight the gun violence plaguing Chicago’s streets Monday, but offered no specifics about how much.
Holder — speaking at a public court ceremony to welcome incoming U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon — said the Justice Department would take “significant steps” including funding extra Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents who will focus on cutting off the supply of “illegal guns that too often wind up in the hands of gang members and other violent criminals.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., quickly claimed credit for the cash injection, which will come from funds seized from drug dealers as a way to get around the federal sequester.
But like Holder, neither Kirk nor U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. — both among a crowd of political and legal big cheeses attending Monday’s ceremony — could say how much cash or how many agents were at stake.
And law enforcement officials familiar with ATF staffing levels in Chicago further dampened expectations when they told the Sun-Times they don’t know of any plans to hire a lot of new ATF agents here.
The officials said ATF enforcement teams in Chicago are at their lowest staffing levels in memory, supplemented by task force officers from other agencies like the Chicago Police Department.
Monday’s cozy ceremony was a chance for judges and former colleagues to roast and pay tribute to Fardon, who repeated his recent statement that “we are not going to arrest our way out of this gang crime problem.”
Holder captured the atmosphere of mutual congratulation at the event in his remarks when he turned to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, calling him “my old boss” and then joking, “Don’t yell at me, Rahm!”