Amid criticism of Chicago, Trump offers suburban police chiefs something they like

Suburban police chiefs welcomed President Donald Trump's promise to delve into mental illness and its effect on crime but took a pass on his controversial comments excoriating Chicago's top cop Monday.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson skipped the president's speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, triggering a diatribe from Trump. That rebuke sucked up much of the oxygen during the event at McCormick Place, but the big news of the day for some local chiefs was Trump's signing of an executive order establishing a Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice focused on mental illness, substance abuse and homelessness.

In a year, the commission will make recommendations on how to "support the abilities of officers to ensure troubled individuals receive the mental health care they need," Trump said.

"These are issues that have been dumped on the doorstep of law enforcement for years without funding or support," said Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steven R. Casstevens, who will become IACP president on Tuesday.

"Law enforcement has to become mental health professionals dealing with homelessness … drug overdoses. It's terrific he showed up here to show support and recognize law enforcement officers," Casstevens said.

Aurora is "still healing" from the Feb. 15 mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. plant, noted Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman, who on Tuesday will become IACP vice president at large.

"Any more resources (like) human capital or programs to assist people and get them the help they need" to prevent tragedies is important, she said. Too often, it's after a crime "we connect the dots backward and think 'perhaps that could have been prevented.'"

Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall said Trump's "care and concern for police and our families was evident to me" by the president's recognition of several law enforcement officers for bravery and leadership.

"I'm encouraged by the signing of the executive order to study and get at the root cause of mental health, drug abuse, homelessness and their relationship to crime," Marshall said.

"I liked the president's comments regarding gun violence, being tougher on those criminals who commit violent crimes by the use of firearms upon our citizens."

The suburban chiefs had no comment when asked about Trump's feud with Chicago's police superintendent. Regarding Johnson's absence, Trump said "it's a "very insulting statement after all I've done for the police." Johnson last week said the president's appearance didn't fit with Chicago and his values.

Trump excoriated Johnson, in return. "Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the United States - it doesn't seem to be working too well, does it?" he asked, listing crime rates in the city.

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President Donald Trump signs an executive order during the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition Monday at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. Associated Press
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