Friday, September 19, 2008

A touch of the blue flu

I've always been a big supporter of police officers, and I don't think they get paid nearly enough for the risks they take and the lowlifes they have to deal with. But a story out of Chicago is casting the police there in a horrible light. Compared to last year, arrests in the Windy City are down 12 percent, and the number of guns recovered by police is down a whopping 51 percent. You might see those numbers as signs that crime is falling in Chicago, but you'd be wrong. What's actually happening - and this comes directly from veteran officers - is that some officers, unhappy with department Superintendent Jody Weis, shown at left, are being less aggressive when it comes to enforcing the laws. Lt. Robert Weisskopf, who heads the Chicago police lieutenants union, told the Associated Press, "People are doing just what they need to get through, and not any extra." Monique Bond, a police department spokeswoman, denied there's been a slowdown by police officers. "There is nothing that we have to prove or support a theory like that." She suggested that the drop in arrests can be attributed to officers not spending their time on relatively petty offenses such as disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, and instead focusing on serious crimes. Oh, really. Well, how about this: Chicago had 322 murders through Aug. 21 this year, 42 more than during the same period in 2007. The number of reports of aggravated batteries involving firearms is up 30 percent. Reports of shots fired are up 33 percent, and there have been 4,000 more calls to police about gang disturbances. If the officers are putting a bigger emphasis on major crimes, it sure doesn't seem to be working. Dislike and distrust of Weis appear to be at the center of this blue semi-flu. He was brought in by Mayor Richard Daley because the department was a source of embarrassment as a result of a string of brutality cases. Weis made a nearly clean sweep of district commanders, set up a new Bureau of Professional Standards to oversee the Internal Affairs Division, took officers out from behind desks and put them on the streets and has ordered police cars to be outfitted with electronic tracking devices. Weisskopf, the head of the lieutenants union, seems especially peeved about Weis' decision to seek a federal investigation of an officer who already had pleaded guilty to beating a handcuffed man who was shackled to a wheelchair. "He paid his debt to society," said Weisskopf. "But it was as if that wasn't good enough. 'We didn't get our complete pound of flesh.'" Since that decision, added John Pallohusky, president of the police sergeants union, "Guys feel the superintendent and the administration does not have their back." OK, you might say, why would Weis seek another review of a case that already has been adjudicated? Perhaps it's the fact that the officer involved in the assault got a two-year suspension. In what twisted sort of society does someone who beats a shackled man in a wheelchair get away with a suspension? One that is afraid of angering unions and getting stuck in endless litigation? Maybe. But it seems clear to me that if people like Weisskopf and Pallohusky are angry, Weis must be on the right track. He's not there to "have the back" of law enforcers who act like criminals.



Blogger PRIguy said...

This shows that no one is above the law. I applaud the superintendent's stance to hold the officers accountable for their actions.

I found one thing particularly disturbing in this post, and that is the comment from Weisskopf about the pound of flesh. A cop beat up a handcuffed person in a wheelchair, got in trouble for it, and they want a pound of flesh afterwards? Who the hell is he? Idi Amin??? These cops are just pissed because they're being held accountable for their actions and how they spend their shifts. Chicago politics and the leaders of most of its powerful factions have a long and storied history of corruption. The fact that someone is trying to stave that off has the leaders' panties in a bunch.

September 21, 2008 at 4:20 AM  

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