Despite Crime Wave, 50 Chicago Police Sent to Dem Convention
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Only days after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for federal agents and U.S. Marshals to help combat the city's wave of violence, about 50 Chicago police officers have arrived in Charlotte, N.C., to work perimeter security details for a week at the Democratic National Convention.
The Chicago officers, in their distinctive uniforms and checkerboard-brimmed hats, said they had been instructed not to talk with reporters about their out-of-town assignment.
"These are officers on their days off and were specially trained as mobile field force officers for the recent NATO summit in Chicago," said Melissa Stratton, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department.
A Charlotte Police Department spokesperson confirmed that "roughly 50 officers from Chicago" were on duty at the convention.
On Monday morning, some of the Chicago officers were stationed near security screening posts where delegates enter the Charlotte Convention Center.
"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 on Monday.
"It's a state of emergency here in Chicago," Rev. Acree told the Wall Street Journal last week.
Chicago police union officials also questioned the use of officers in Charlotte.
"We had two homicides and dozens of shootings this weekend, and we're sending offices out of the city?" said Pat Camden, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. "I think the average person would shake his head over that."
Last Friday, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy publicly asked for federal help in targeting neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the city's wave of violence.
"The help comes in the form of additional agents to target guns, gangs and drugs," Superintendent McCarthy said at a news conference.
Chicago's homicide rate is about 31 percent higher than last year, with 346 reported killings as of Aug. 19, according to figures provided by the Chicago police.
Officials said the Chicago officers were sent to Charlotte to reciprocate for police sent by Charlotte to help during the recent NATO summit held in Chicago.
"They are there on their days off and were not pulled off the street," said Stratton.
She said the officers sent to Charlotte will be paid through a special federal grant of $50 million for convention security.
"No funds from the city of Chicago are involved," Stratton said.
"We had a very successful outcome at the NATO convention in Chicago," she said, praising the training of the officers to handle large gatherings.
There was no request for the Chicago officers to assist in security at the GOP convention last week in Tampa, Fla., Stratton added.
The police union has been critical of Mayor Emanuel, a prominent figure in the Democratic party and former White House chief of staff, for substantial reductions in the police budget.
"We've had about a thousand officers retire over the last two years and only about 200 have been hired to replace them," said Camden.
"We've had a collective failure of all institutions to address the violence and I don't give the president a pass either," Rev. Acree said.
A spokesperson for Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe said, "Chief Monroe is grateful to have the assistance of these officers for this monumental event."
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