Pray for Rain
When I joined the Chicago Police Department in 1983 it was a department much like the department my father joined in 1938. At least in the mindset and attitudes of the police officers patrolling the streets and to a great extent the bosses downtown.
Even though each generation of police officers heard “Kid this job ain’t what it used to be” from the seasoned veterans, it actually still was. In the last twenty years, I’ve noticed a department-wide and perhaps even nationwide effort to change both the departments and policing in general.
There were a few axioms I learned when I first hit the street. The veterans told me a few rules like “You don’t hit someone unless they deserve it.” “Don’t adjudicate the crime on the street. Lock them up and let them try the case in court.” “If you lay hands on them they go to jail.” And “Don’t take it personally. It wasn’t your stop sign they ran.”
There were plenty more and they had served for decades. A police officer could walk into a crowd and there was a mutual respect. The officer didn’t abuse it and the gangbanger knew the rules too. A gangbanger wouldn’t dream of mouthing off to a police officer because he knew he got locked up over-night. He expected to be stopped and frisked. He didn’t know it was called a Terry search, but he understood the reasons for it.
That seemed to work but the powers that ran the show decided the police officers needed to be changed. The districts were re-drawn, beats were changed, manpower was moved from one district to another, uniforms were changed, and even the squad cars were repainted to be friendlier.
What happened as a result? In Chicago, the homicide rate skyrocketed. The clearance rate dropped into the basement. More and more innocent bystanders were getting shot.
In the graph I found on the Second City Blog while the Chicago police use of force and the police shootings dropped compared to nationwide statistics homicides keep climbing.
So, since making all these police changes hasn’t improved things, our church and political leaders have decided we need even more changes and monitoring, hence a federal consent decree. I don’t understand the reason but then I was a police officer for 30 years and too indoctrinated by all the wrong things we have done to be able to know how to do our job.
I’m trying to understand the logic here. If it isn’t broken – fix it. Makes as much sense as the recent tactics of blocking expressways in relatively low crime areas. Marching and blocking the Kennedy Expressway with Chicago to the north and Park Ridge to the south should scare all the gangbangers away from there. I’m being sarcastic, obviously.
It’s clear to most of us that these marcher’s resources would be better-served marching and protesting on the street corners where the shootings occur rather than blocking the Kennedy expressway leading to O’Hare Airport on Labor Day.
The Kennedy Expressway, on Labor Day, is traditionally bumper-to-bumper with people going to and from the airport and returning from holiday weekends. The protesters claim they are trying to let the rest of us know about the crime in their neighborhoods, but trust me, their audience already knows. That’s why they went to Wisconsin for the weekend, not the Englewood or Austin neighborhoods.
The weather forecast is for a good chance of thunderstorms. I hate to wish for a rainy holiday weekend, but it would help. It might save some protester from being run down by a father driving a car full of annoying kids, tired from a long weekend. It’s only a matter of time until it happens.
Through this entire ordeal not once did I hear a politician or church leader mention a thing about going after the root of the problem, stopping the shooters. Blaming the bad guy has gone out of fashion. Deflecting the blame on to the victim and law enforcement is all the rage with these people.
Enough ranting. Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend. Avoid the Kennedy on Monday.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments.
Run low and zigzag.
– Robert Weisskopf (Lt. ret.)