Thursday, December 3, 2015

Firing McCarthy isn’t the do-all resolution to Chicago police problem

Excuse me for not getting all worked up and excited, thinking that the dismissal this week of Garry McCarthy as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department is somehow going to resolve all of the problems law enforcement faces these days.

It really was just an effort to try to shut up those people who are complaining that we don’t have recall elections in Chicago or Illinois to try to remove Rahm Emanuel from office. Nothing more.

NOW I’M NOT a McCarthy supporter. I just think it’s short-sighted to think his removal really changes anything about the culture of our police.

The department of the 21st Century is removed from their brethren who beat up on protesters in Grant Park in connection with the 1968 Democratic Convention, who are also removed from the Chicago cops who were willing to look the other way back in the days when Al Capone and his gang exerted their influence – particularly in the form of buying off then-Mayor William Hale Thompson.

And for the record, I have two uncles (one now retired, the other deceased) who were rookie Chicago cops back in the late 1960s.

But there still is something in the DNA of the type of person who gets into law enforcement whose initial reaction to potential trouble is to close the ranks and support their brethren.

HECK, THAT’S ACTUALLY a part of human nature. Everybody, regardless of who they are or what they do, is going to have a similar reaction.

But it has the potential for risk and cover-up because of the nature of what we ask law enforcement officers to do. We allow them to carry weapons, use physical force and (on occasion) kill people legally.

When they cover up, the secrets and their consequences are bigger.

McCARTHY: No more, but nothing's changed
Now I know some people are going to screech and scream that we need an outsider to head the department. We may hear about the days of O.W. Wilson, an academic with theories about law enforcement who became police superintendent in Chicago following the Summerdale scandal (cops acting as robbers, stealing while in uniform). He is credited with major reforms of the department.

YET LET’S BE honest. We had an outsider in McCarthy – a veteran New York police official who later headed the department in Newark, N.J., prior to coming to Chicago.

Let’s also remember the not-long-ago days of Jody Weiss, the former FBI agent who was the subject of constant ridicule from the ranks who were convinced that no “G-man” would really know what was going on in the rough-and-tumble streets of Chicago.

The problem may be that law enforcement officials in general have a high opinion of themselves and some think they’re entitled to look down upon us masses. I recall one now-retired police chief who once said he honestly thought the type of people who became police officers were the elite of our society.

Then again, he came out of the ranks of the Illinois State Police – an entity that has its own culture. But still gives its people the authority to carry a firearm and use it.

I DON’T KNOW what the solution is to our city’s current problems, other than that anything that is tried is going to offend a segment of our society. Activist-types will want to see incredibly punitive actions against the police, while those “bungalow belt” types with ties to police officers will view anything against them as punitive.

Below fold  in Manhattan; Page 5 in Murdoch-land
It is reflected in the regulations that exist with regards to improper actions that may be committed by police officers, which were the point of the joke often told by reporter-types amongst themselves about how if someone really wanted to kill another human being, the way to do it and get away with it is to become a police officer.

Because then the Fraternal Order of Police has so many restrictions built into the city contract that it is virtually an illegal act for department officials to confirm that an officer is even under suspicion.

It becomes a department secret, the cracking of which can be next-to-impossible. Which may well be the significance of the Laquan McDonald saga – the code got cracked, and we’re learning what really happened on that evening in 2014 when he was shot to death repeatedly.


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