Sun Times in the Tank
Long post. We're going to take the Sun Times to the woodshed.
No wonder the dead-tree media is dying. Get a load of this "editorial reply" to yesterday's whinny screed by J-Fled. Try not to vomit:
It is easily the most dangerous and frustrating job in Chicago. The hours you work are miserable. The respect you deserve is not always forthcoming.
Your pay could be better. And God help you if you should have a bad day, lose your cool and get a little too rough. People who have no idea what you go through and put up with every day will be the first to call for your head.
It is the most dangerous and frustrating job in Chicago -- cop.
But here is the other side of the coin: If you can't handle the pressure, you shouldn't be a cop. If you torture suspects in a police station basement, you shouldn't be a cop. If you beat up a woman bartender, you shouldn't be a cop. If you pummel a man handcuffed in a wheelchair, you shouldn't be a cop.
Because all you do is sow distrust in Chicago's neighborhoods for all police officers, the vast majority of whom would never in their wildest dreams beat up a woman bartender or slug a man handcuffed in a wheelchair. What you're doing is hurting your fellow officers, sullying the reputation of an entire department.
- It was with that in mind that Mayor Daley hired Police Supt. Jody Weis three years ago to clean up the department's image.
- It was an image that sorely needed restoration. Chicago was going through a mini-spree of police brutality cases. The much-maligned Office of Professional Standards was seen as turning a blind eye to rogue cops. Seven members of the elite police Special Operations Section were charged with a litany of crimes, including a conspiracy to kill a fellow cop. And it seemed like everyone in the nation had watched the video of off-duty officer Anthony Abbate attacking bartender Karolina Obrycka.
But three years later, all is not well inside the Chicago Police Department. Weis, in a long letter that appeared in Monday's Sun-Times, criticized the police union for trying to continue "business as usual." And an anti-Weis march by potentially thousands of rank-and-file officers is scheduled for Wednesday outside police headquarters.
Weis, a career FBI agent and the first outsider in nearly 50 years to serve as Chicago Police superintendent, clearly has made mistakes. Promptly replacing 21 of 25 district commanders left many officers on the street wondering if the top brass understood the challenges they face. His decision to wear a uniform even though he never was a street cop offended those who were. And merit promotions for two officers who worked as drivers for Weis angered cops who work the streets who had been passed over.
The "business as usual" was all from the fifth floor of Headquarters, not the union. The superintendent's driver making "merit" sergeant was just the icing on the cake. Cline did it. Hilliard did it. J-Fled was signaling loud and clear that nothing had changed.
Most controversial was Weis' decision early in his tenure to call in federal authorities to probe the case of Officer William Cozzi, who had been caught on video beating a man shackled to a wheelchair. Cozzi already had been suspended for two years without pay.
Looking at that incident now, it's a legitimate question whether Weis reacted too quickly, coming down too hard on a veteran officer with an otherwise commendable record who already had been punished. And without a doubt Weis had a political tin ear for department politics, clearly never anticipating how deeply unpopular -- even loathed -- that one decision would make him among the rank and file.
- But a thoughtful, respectful discussion of Weis' failings was never ventured. Rather, Weis has been subjected to the cheap-shot warfare of 24-hour anonymous bloggers.
And even if you add up all the hours blogged from here, Shaved and Crimefile, it doesn't add up to 24 hours a day. We do find it interesting that the Sun Times editorial was published without a name attached to it though - anonymously you might say.
For their part, the police union and rank and file officers need to show they don't want "business as usual" and are determined to gain the respect of citizens still terrified by the years of police torture under recently convicted former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.
Now that Mayor Daley is not running for re-election, it seems unlikely Weis will remain when his contract is up early next year. The next superintendent needs to stand up for officers when they're in a pinch, but must like Weis have zero tolerance for cops who cross the line.
God help him (or her) if he runs into the same ugly buzz saw that's taking Weis down.
And it's funny how J-Fled's tolerance seems to be endless when it's politically connected gold stars with their assorted body parts in the wringer. Ernie, Tony, Ruth, Bea, Penny, Frank, Mike, the list is extensive.
The buzz saw taking J-Fled down is of his own making. A litany of bad decisions; a complete inability to self-evaluate and adapt to the situation; the arrogance typical of an FBI product too wrapped up in his own importance; a history of attacking the messenger (FBI whistleblower Wright; Lt. Andrews); and of course, running from the sound of gunfire.
It sure seems that the Sun Times is fully on board with the "re-hab J-Fled's image" as much as they were with the "destroy the CPD" kick they were before. Who are they taking their marching orders from?