Insignificance Continues to Grow
We'd really like to claim that we were in contact with the AP and we knew that J-Fed's NPR interview was going to end up looking like a face full of egg. We didn't. But somehow, some way, the alleged "de-policing" taking place in Chicago is reaching a national audience. And it's doing something hitherto thought unthinkable - uniting the masses. Here's some of the report:
- Serious crime is up but arrests are down in Chicago, and some police officers say they are working the streets less aggressively out of resentment toward their new chief and fear of being second-guessed by him.
"People are doing just what they need to get through" their shifts, said Lt. Robert Weisskopf, president of the Chicago police lieutenants union, "and not any extra."
In addition, he asked federal officials to investigate an officer who had already pleaded guilty to beating a handcuffed man shackled to a wheelchair and was serving a two-year suspension. That angered the rank-and-file.
They felt the officer "did something wrong and he paid his debt to society," Weisskopf said. "But it was as if that wasn't good enough, 'We didn't get our complete pound of flesh.'"
Since then, "guys feel the superintendent and the administration does not have their back," said John Pallohusky, president of the police sergeants union.
Through the end of August, the department made 103,589 arrests (not including arrests for outstanding arrest warrants) compared with 117,971 for the same period last year, according to the department. The 5,600 guns recovered is roughly half as many as police seized in the same period in 2007, internal documents show.
Bookings in the Cook County Jail - where the vast majority of inmates come from Chicago - are down, too. In all but one month this year, the number of people booked into the jail was down from the same month a year earlier, sometimes by hundreds, according to data obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Chicago has had 322 murders through Aug. 21, or 42 more than the number committed through the same date last year. Also, police have received 10,000 more calls from people about shots being fired, and the number of calls about gang disturbances has jumped by nearly 4,000, according to the department documents.
- But among the slew of statistics kept by the department are "self-initiated" calls, or those in which officers stop and question people about possible drug or gang activity. Department figures show the total is down by more than 3,700 from the same period last year.
Here's the problem as we see it:
- J-Fed was brought in to rein in a Department out of control. Unfortunately, the facts on the ground didn't (and still don't) support this belief. The Department was directionless, but that was directly attributable to the last three Superintendents and their inability to move the Department away from the corrupting influence of politics. It's not entirely their fault - no one could completely resist Daley and the Machine. But each made it progressively worse by their inaction.
- When J-Fed came in blind, he had no choice but to make the moves Daley and the Machine wanted. The last twenty years of Daley has hollowed the Department in a way no one would have ever dreamed possible. There are almost NO qualified individuals to LEAD this Department. Any that could were chased off by the political animals, shunted into dead end sergeant or lieutenant spots, or simply frustrated by their inability to make real and lasting changes in working conditions.
- Managers don't make good bosses. Good bosses can be capable managers, but it almost never works out the other way. And when the criteria for promotion are bloodline, blow job or political sponsorship, the Department isn't even finding capable managers within its ranks.
- J-Fed, after dismissing out of hand a few hundred years worth of police experience, is saddled with incompetent political hacks left and right. So what does he do? Brings in his own stable of "non political" friends, thereby perpetuating the "closed shop" and dashing any chance of attracting capable managers who may have showed him the ropes.
- local law enforcement are a bunch of rubes and provincial hacks and if you spin them a yarn and promise them the world, they'll run right into the gates of hell because you tell them to.
Whatever is going on, call it "de-policing," call it a "slowdown," call it "just doing your job and nothing extra" is gaining national attention and is scaring the crap out of 35th Street. Daley isn't scared - he's in for another 3 years regardless since there are no elections and no recall provisions. Why would he care?
But the brass can be moved, they can be demoted and they can bear the brunt of the mayor's displeasure. And the displeasure is beginning to center around J-Fed.
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