Saturday, September 12, 2015

Law enforcement types the biggest control freaks because they can be

Dealing with police and court officials for the past quarter century has let me know there are varying personalities amongst those who devote their lives to protecting the public safety.

Some have a strong sense of public duty, while a few probably ought to be locked up. And the bulk of them are no more intelligent than the rest of us – even though they’re doing a difficult job that many of us couldn’t handle.

BUT IT DOES create a sense among many that they want to exist in their own world; without the prying eyes of the public monitoring what they do. Just like the Army – which often gives off a sense that they’d like to handle the public by issuing a statement saying war was declared, then issuing a follow-up statement years later saying the war was won!

So a pair of news stories I stumbled across on Friday were not the least bit surprising – the Chicago Tribune reported how police in Fox Lake are upset that the coroner in Lake County, Ill., is giving out details related to the slaying earlier this month of a police lieutenant.

While the Chicago Sun-Times reported how the Cook County state’s attorney’s office is now relying on the grand jury system to handle criminal cases involving firearms, rather than bringing them before a judge for a preliminary hearing.

The latter puts the early stages of prosecution under the control of prosecutors, rather than judges who might find flaws with cases. While the Fox Lake police have tried saying little to nothing about the case, only for reporter-types to wind up getting details from the coroner’s office.

IN THE CASE of the Fox Lake police, they have tried saying they want little information to get out because they supposedly want to have details that only a criminal suspect would know.

So he (or she, I shouldn’t make assumptions) can inadvertently trap him/herself in their own words.

So while the police have said multiple shots were fired in the incident that killed Joseph Gliniewicz, the coroner has said the officer was shot in the torso. Although even the coroner has been hesitant to say much more.

It’s not a flood of lurid detail coming from the coroner, but it is enough that the Fox Lake police felt the need to issue a statement calling the coroner “unprofessional” and “completely irresponsible.”

PROBABLY BECAUSE THE police only want to have to make a statement saying that an arrest has been made – something they haven’t been able to do yet.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the coroner said one reason he has given out as much detail as he did was because of some rumors that had become public. He wanted to correct the record. Is that unprofessional?

Or could it be a police department willing to let the public think nonsense so long as it benefits them. Similar to one story I once covered where authorities claimed to have the suspect on video tape committing an act of vandalism – and it turned out during the bench trial that the video depicted 23 different people doing various things!

Not as specific as police wanted us to think.

OF COURSE, THESE cases get into the court system, where there also are officials who want things done their way, The Chicago Sun-Times said that State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez told her staff earlier this year to take gun cases to grand juries to get indictments – rather than having a judge hold a preliminary hearing.

Such a hearing gives a judge a chance to rule on whether the police were justified in arresting someone – or if the charges before the court are totally bogus. A judge can always be predictable, but grand juries give us that old cliché, “A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.”

The state’s attorney’s office told the newspaper that they’re merely trying to be more consistent with the way they handle criminal cases involving firearms. Which sounds noble, particularly since police are interested in creating cases that will wind up with convictions.

A defendant being indicted for a gun offense sounds ominous. Unlike a case being tossed out because a judge decided the evidence to support charges was too weak to take seriously!


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