Who’s Got Your Back?

The most reassuring words a police officer can hear while going into a dangerous situation is another officer shouting, “I have your back.” And, the very next exhilarating sound a police officer hears are those of distant sirens continual getting closer assuring the officer that help is coming in hard.

Conversely, the most discouraging thing an officer can hear is a politician coddling a hard-core thug. An alarming example is the current discussion about guns and laws directing possession of them. I believe if one would ask any group of police officers across our nation about gun laws, they would overwhelmingly agree that there are sufficiently strict enough laws on the books to control the violent criminals. The issue is using those laws and administering the correct punishments attached to gun violations. It seems that politicians and by proxy, the State’s Attorneys and court systems are ignoring the public’s safety and that of the officers who risk their lives to arrest repeat gun law violators.

A fine example of this was a hardened gang member by the nickname of “Bro Man.” (I deliberately will not give him any credence by using his real name.) This Chicago gang leader was arrested and did a year for manufacturing and delivery of cocaine. After he was released he was rearrested for aggravated battery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He received probation. Yet again, he was rearrested with a firearm and also charged with defacing a firearm. As a result, he once again received probation.

During his four-year stay in Cook County Jail awaiting trial for murder, the Cook County Jail Disciplinary Board cited Bro Man 17 times for disciplinary complaints that were serious enough to warrant hearings. The Board failed to hear 11 of these hearings in a timely fashion resulting in no disciplinary action. Four hearings resulted in a total of 58 days in restrictive custody out of 3 ½ years in the county jail. (Chicago Sun-Times, October 15, 2017.)

Street officers see this pattern repeated until someone dies and the newspapers take issue with the gun laws being too lax, ala Las Vegas. The liberals blame crime on society and as such attempt to change society. The conservatives blame crime on individuals using their free will to do what they choose. As such, conservatives want to punish individuals.

The political trend of being lenient and offering second and third chances is meaningless to a hardened criminal. Repetitive chances are considered a sign of weakness and as such, our courts are taken advantage of. Our politicians are collecting voters for the next election cycle and our streets are flowing red. All this could be acceptable if the police officer was not caught in the middle.

Police officers routinely run instinctively toward criminal activity without thought of their safety or future wellbeing. If no one has our backs, how long will this sacrifice continue? Officers will be forced to choose future and pension over the welfare of the innocent. Soon policing will be simply taking a report and allowing the insurance companies to figure it out. Without that person protecting your back, there is no you.

– Larry Casey, police sergeant (ret.), Chicago Police Department