(The Center Square) – Crime in Illinois is “nearly at a state of emergency,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday as he and another billionaire traded barbs about the issue.
Recent FBI crime statistics for Illinois show the state is outpacing the rest of the country for murders, violent crime and property crime.
Homicides in Illinois were at 9 per 100,000 when the national average is 6.5 per 100,000. Violent crime increased 2.6 percent and is about 7 percent higher than the national average. Property crime is about 25 percent higher than the national average.
Ken Griffin, the owner of hedge fund Citadel, told the Economic Club of Chicago on Monday he can’t recruit people here as he did 20 years ago.
“It’s becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city which has so much violence,” Griffin said, noting it could be years, not decades, before he decides to move the operations out of Illinois. “I mean, Chicago is like Afghanistan on a good day, and that’s a problem.”
He said it’s a disgrace Gov. J.B. Pritzker isn’t inserting himself into Chicago’s crime issues more.
He shared his recollection of a call he was on during the 2020 civil unrest that hit Chicago.
“I told him to deploy the National Guard and he goes ‘it won’t look good for there to be men and women on Michigan Avenue with assault weapons,’” Griffin said. “If that saves the life of a child, I don’t care. And, he doesn’t care.”
Griffin said Pritzker puts politics ahead of people.
Pritzker on Tuesday said Griffin made false remarks about that 2020 call, saying there were 20 other people on the line.
“When we don’t hear of the need in the city even though we are offering it, then we don’t provide it,” Pritzker said. “You can’t just march people in without coordinating with the Chicago Police Department.”
Pritzker did deploy the National Guard to Chicago in the wake of violent looting and arson at the end of May 2020.
On Tuesday, the governor acknowledged the magnitude of crime in Illinois since then.
“Look, we are nearly at a state of emergency in our need to address crime,” Pritzker said. “We are doing everything at the state level.”
He said he’s working with officials not just in Chicago, but also in Rockford.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, was pleased Pritzker recognized the magnitude of the situation. But he said policies coming from the statehouse the governor has approved aren’t helping.
“Reducing sentences, letting criminals out early, reducing penalties for offenses,” Sosnowski said, “at the same time slamming the police.”
Sosnowski said elected officials should be supporting law enforcement, not putting more burdens on the profession.