Mayor Emanuel Says Chicago Police ‘Going Fetal’ Instead of Fighting Crime

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Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, says intense media and public criticism is making police officers too passive – “going fetal” – and is allowing crime to spike.

“All of us want officers to be proactive [but] to be able to do community policing in a proactive way, we have to encourage them so it’s not their job on the line or that judgment call all the time that, if they stop, this could be a career-ender,” because of a resulting media uproar, Emanuel said Monday.

“If that happens, it’s going to have an impact [on police officers’ decisions] and we’re seeing it… that’s why every other police chief and mayor and U.S. attorney then applauded what I said,” said Emanuel, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

Emanuel’s comments add a top Democratic voice to the growing criticism of Obama’s campaign to stigmatize and then federalize state and local police. Obama launched the campaign just before the 2014 mid-term election by stoking anger among African-Americans about the August 2014 death of an man who attacked a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

But his progressive anti-police campaign has had lethal national consequences — a nation-wide spike in murders that has added roughly 480 murders above the 2014 level.

The growing violence may be spinning out of control before the 2016 election. Chicago just came off a September that ranked as the city’s deadliest month is over a decade. September was so bad that over two consecutive weekends over 100 people were shot in the Democratic-run city.

As crime rises, voters are more likely to back the GOP in 2016 — if the GOP candidates highlight the deadly results of Obama’s anti-police campaign.

Emanuel spoke Monday to defend himself from police unions who criticized his “going fetal” criticism.

“We have allowed our Police Department to get fetal, and it is having a direct consequence,” Emanuel said during a Justice Department event in Washington last week. “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict … they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact,” Emanuel said in his remarks at the conference.

Police in Baltimore, for instance, were accused of holding back throughout the summer after a series of riots and accusations made by the state’s attorney that they killed Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, while transporting him in a police van.

Emanuel and a slew of other mayors and police officials attend a Justice Department Summit on violence and crime reduction in Washington D.C. on October 7. The event was led by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and it was advertised as a review of the rising crime and proposed fixes.

By Monday, Emanuel’s comments had drawn criticism by representatives of the Chicago Police Department and the Mayor defended himself by saying citizens with video-cameras in their phones are having a “Youtube effect” on policing after the uproar that following the killing of a young thief in Ferguson, and the accidental killing of a criminal in a Baltimore police van.

“What happened post-Baltimore, what happened post-Ferguson, is having an impact” on policing in Chicogo, said Emanuel on Monday. “I still believe recent events over the last year or 18 months have had an impact. And officers will tell you that. And I tried to speak up for the good officers that are doing community policing that make up the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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