President Trump threatened Tuesday night to use federal power to “fix the horrible carnage” unfolding in Chicago, referring to the city’s extraordinary recent spike in homicides.
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
The problem is real: 762 people were murdered in Chicago last year, a stunning 58 percent jump in homicides from 2015. So large was the sharp, sudden increase in homicides in one of America’s largest cities that it tangibly raised the entire nation’s homicide rate higher for 2016. But nobody really knows why it’s happening.
The latest effort to unravel the mystery comes from a new report released last week by the University of Chicago Crime Labs. In it, researchers took an exhaustive look at a wealth of data on social programs, mental-health funding, policing strategies, criminal-investigation clearance rates, gun ownership, and more. What they found raised more questions than answers.
Beyond Chicago’s specific woes, the situation also occupies an increasingly central role in the national debate over crime and policing. Trump frequently pointed to Chicago’s homicide rate on the campaign trail when speaking about the need to restore “law and order” in American society. In August, he said the city’s crime problems could be solved by “tougher police tactics,” a theme he would repeat throughout the campaign. During the transition in January, Trump cited the city’s 2016 murder statistics in a tweet, wrongly claiming they were “record setting,” and said that if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel “can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!”