Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One down. One to go!

I couldn’t help but notice the reports published Monday about Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis claiming that his private meeting with street-gang leaders created a significant decline in gang-related crime.

Give it up, Jody.

THE POLITICAL POWERS-THAT-BE in this city, including all the government geeks who aspire to be mayor, have got it in their heads that the way to make nice with the Police Department and prevent it from becoming a serious thorn in their side is to sacrifice you.

You have your job for the remaining two-plus months that Richard M. Daley is mayor, but no more. The new mayor, no matter whom it winds up being, will probably make your dismissal their first priority (as a symbolic gesture that they’re imposing “change” for our city).

What caught my attention about this was the timing. It was on the same day that Jonathon Monken resigned his own high-ranking law enforcement position as director of the Illinois State Police.

Monken was another official who had the support of his big-boss (in his case, Gov. Pat Quinn), but lacked the trust of the rank-and-file officers, which caused the bulk of political people to shy away from ever warming up to him.

THE ILLINOIS SENATE never did confirm Monken’s appointment to the police position, which is what caused Jonathon to give it up. Not that Quinn didn’t continue to show support – he went ahead and nominated Monken to be head of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, a position with a salary that is only a $4,000-per-year cut from the $132,566 he was taking in as state police director.

For what it’s worth, the political people who hated Monken as the state’s head cop are saying somewhat nice things about him as an IEMA director – which means he’ll be the guy in charge of any relief efforts in the event of a disaster (natural, or man-made).

Which may be why Quinn made a point of letting people know in his statement announcing the switch that Monken as state police director helped significantly in the state’s efforts to cope with the heavy snowfall that hit us in early February. State police helped 4,000 stranded motorists and dealt with 270 auto accidents across Illinois.

It also most likely means they don’t want to come off as being too petty about Monken’s future – especially since the bottom line is that they won. He’s not going to be the top state cop any longer.

IT’S TOO BAD nobody is inclined to offer Weis anything, other than a one-way ticket out of town (the further away he winds up, the better).

In both cases, it was pure parochialism that caused people to not want either man in charge of a law enforcement agency.

Weis was a federal agent who had worked across the country (and once was even the Special Agent In Charge of the FBI office in Chicago) in various roles. Which made him suspicious to Chicago cops who don’t really trust anyone who grew up on the opposite side of the same neighborhood as they did.

Let alone somebody who traveled the country to enforce the law.

FOR MONKEN, THERE were always the age jokes (he was only 29 when Quinn picked him for the state police post). But there also was the fact that he was never a sworn police officer of any type, or at any level.

His paramilitary mentality and short-shaven hair is owed to the fact that he is a military-type – he’s an Illinois National Guard type who served in Iraq. While police-types usually approve of soldier-types, they usually expect those former soldiers to walk the beat a bit before moving up the ranks.

Getting the top post right away almost made it look like Quinn had some desire to impose his puppet over the state police. Even if that’s not really true, some people just didn’t want to believe otherwise.

Just like there are those who don’t want to believe anything positive about Weis – who claimed that his gang-leader meetings helped reduce murder in certain neighborhoods by as much as 40 percent (15 homicides in the Harrison District on the West Side in the last few months of 2010, as opposed to 25 during the same time period in 2009).

ONE CAN QUOTE all the Harvard University academics they want to show the significance of gaining new data about street gangs that helps better comprehend their strengths and weaknesses, the way that Weis is.

There are just going to be some individuals who insist on getting a new superintendent who isn’t quite so new – preferably someone who started out walking a beat in a Sout’ Side police district and worked his way up through the ranks (never showing any ambition to do anything bigger than being a genuine Chicago cop.

It’s actually too bad that Weis can’t pull a “Monken” and walk out on his own terms. Which would probably be the ultimate revenge against those political individuals who are drooling in anticipation for the chance to fire him come May.


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