* [CHECK UPDATE 3 BELOW] The governor says he might call out the National Guard…
With gun violence at a crisis, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday said he is in talks with Illinois State Police and the Illinois National Guard to see if more police officers can be deployed to the streets of Chicago.
The governor said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley hasn’t asked for help, but Blagojevich says he’ll call the mayor once he has some concrete suggestions about what help he can provide.
Blagojevich didn’t have many specifics, but he said it’s more likely that state police will be brought in than the National Guard.
He also apparently suggested that retired police officers could be brought back for duty. Interesting that he hasn’t broached the subject with Mayor Daley yet.
*** UPDATE 1 *** The Tribbies have a story online, and it brings up an important point…
Just how the State Police would play a significant role is questionable since Blagojevich has only recently begun rebuilding its ranks after union officials say the agency lost more than 10 percent of its positions from 2001 through 2005 and patrolling of many areas, particularly during nights and weekends, is spotty at best.
* They also have a response from the mayor’s office…
“We’re obviously not going to turn away help on a front as important as this,” Heard said. “At the same time, we’re a little puzzled about how it would work. It’s unprecedented. Obviously, help in the form of reducing the number of guns on the street go a long way to addressing the problem.”
* And this…
Blagojevich and Daley have not been politically close. Like Daley, Blagojevich has alienated many leading Democrats in the state—Senate President Emil Jones being a strong exception—over a style of governing that critics contend is dominated more by a personal publicity pop than putting any substance behind it.
*** UPDATE 2 *** IIS has raw audio. Listen or download.
*** UPDATE 3 *** The governor’s press secretary has just issued this clarification…
As mentioned at today’s press conference, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said it was “highly unlikely” that the Illinois National Guard would be sent out to help the Chicago police. The more likely scenario involves the Illinois State Police. The Governor is meeting with law enforcement officials later today to look at options on how the state can help Mayor Daley with more personnel.
The National Guard will only be attending the meeting today for informational purposes.
The only way the National Guard would be involved, if they are involved, is with the use of tactical helicopters that are currently used in narcotic operations. No National Guard troops are being considered. [emphasis added]
So, no troops in the streets.