Despite a monthly body count in their city that rivals that of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chicago Police Department sent 50 officers to work security at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
The officers were sent to Charlotte just days after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to target some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods with help from the FBI, U.S. Marshalls, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Drug Enforcement Agency. The move was questioned by some community leaders in the city.
“I would love to know the logic behind that decision to send them there given all that is happening here in Chicago,” the Rev. Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago told ABC News.
According to reports, as of Aug. 19, the city’s murder rate was 31 percent higher than it was in 2011, with 346 murders this year. By comparison, in Washington, D.C., a city once called the murder capital of America, as of Sept. 7, there had been 58 murders.
The violence, much of which is attributed to the city’s gang culture, led to Emanuel’s request for extra help. However, despite that request, police officials in Chicago said they were fully staffed during the time the officers were in Charlotte.
“These officers are on their days off, and they wouldn’t be on the street,” Chicago Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden told CBS News. “This has no direct effect on manpower.”
Camden said the city needed more full-time officers to deal with a problem that Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters last week was the “worst of the worst.”
Some officials in the city had mixed feelings. Though it was an honor for the officers to have been invited to the convention, they said accepting the invite doesn’t reflect well on the police department, given the city’s circumstances.
“I was glad to see the Chicago police,” Chicago Alderwoman Carrie Austin told The Chicago Tribune. “But I was pretty wary about it as well. I've got kids dying on my streets, and I thought, ‘what are you doing here?’”