(Part 1 is here.)
A Chicago Boyz reader writes:
In addition to their own command structure and internal affairs division, there are now several additional entities that review officer involved incidents. These entities are staffed almost exclusively by people with no law enforcement experience or understanding of law enforcement. These include the Chicago Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and the recently constituted Civilian Oversight Panel. In addition to having no training in investigation, police procedure, and the use of force, these groups are largely composed of people with a strong anti-police bias. There is no due process, and there is not even the pretense of “balance” in their deliberations. From the comfort of their armchairs, these Monday morning quarterbacks sit in judgement of the actions of sworn officers who are compelled by circumstances to make life-or-death decisions under incredible pressure and often in a matter of seconds. Since it is functionally impossible to comply with all applicable policy and adhere to all applicable procedure in the real world, they have a near 100% success rate in finding fault with what is otherwise reasonable and appropriate law enforcement activity. The most charitable interpretation is that it is bizarre theater intended to allow the City to reap the benefits of policing at the cost of the unjust destruction of the lives of a steady stream of police officers. The least charitable is that it is intended to destroy the CPD. Ironically, the lesson of the Laquan McDonald and Anjanette Young cases is that the CPD brass and the City’s mayor will head off the referral of any really inflammatory cases if they can.
Chicago Police are no longer allowed to pursue offenders in their patrol cars or on foot. There is a very strict no-pursuit policy in place. That is correct: if you attempt to flee arrest, the CPD will not chase you. Pursuit in any context now requires the approval of a supervisor, which, realistically, cannot be obtained in a timeframe that matters.
Chicago’s criminal elements have learned this, and have built it into their modus operandi. If you are wondering why so many people are shot by assailants in cars, you now have the answer: in Chicago, they can drive away without risk of apprehension. For rank-and-file officers, to pursue is to risk everything for nothing.
Meanwhile, the rank and file of the CPD have come to understand that their every action is subject to review under a microscope by multiple entities, that their livelihood, their career, their pension, and their freedom are on the line every time that they act to enforce the law. The recent Toledo case is an excellent example. The officer’s body-camera footage was edited and broadcast in slow motion by television news in a manner intended to make the officer’s actions appear criminal. Anyone who bought the media coverage will be astonished and upset that the officer’s actions have been deemed completely justified. The quest to prosecute police misconduct to the fullest extent has brought about a situation where charges based on overwhelming evidence are dropped against a suspect, and brought against the officer on the basis of the flimsiest of evidence.
Chicago police also understand that no one in their command structure and none of the elected officials that they serve have their backs. How did this happen? Most of the command staff of the CPD are “merit” promotions, which is Chicago-speak for political appointments. They would otherwise have no chance of getting promoted. Their primary allegiance is to their political masters. As a group, they have been a source of scandal after scandal, starting from when the merit system was first implemented.
At a recent press conference, Mayor Lightfoot stated, “remember, the police are not our enemy”. The irony is that the vast majority of her words and deeds as mayor have made it abundantly clear that she does regard the police as the enemy. See the CPD response to the Mayor in the links below. This event may well be THE tipping point: the line officers of the CPD are now completely alienated from their uniformed superiors and their elected leaders. Expect escalating disobedience.
This high level of scrutiny has made officers second-guess themselves during violent encounters. This may be a partial explanation for how two CPD officers ended up being shot in the head during the recent traffic stop referred to at the beginning of this missive. In lethal confrontations, seconds count, and hesitation can mean death or grave bodily harm. Best to avoid such situations entirely. Many CPD have “gone fetal”. In effect, their first priority is to stay off the radar; doing their jobs has become a distant second priority for any officer with a strong sense of self-preservation. Going fetal is likely to include a cessation of all proactive policing. The most recent post by Dunphy at PJ Media illustrates what this will look like.
The net effect of this? Record CPD retirements. Large numbers of CPD transferring to other police departments around the state and the country. Record low interest in joining the CPD, record low qualifications and problematic histories among recruits, and in spite of this, insufficient recruits to replace losses. Police presence in the City is thin and getting thinner (see CWB behind-the-paywall content). Response times to calls for armed violence are now measured in tens of minutes, with responses to other calls often taking hours. Don’t expect the City to be forthcoming or honest about this.
Coming soon: increasing disobedience by the CPD. In Chicago, elected officials get CPD security details, with the Mayor having more than 50 officers assigned to her detail. How long will those officers obey the order to report to that detail? Suppose they decided instead to re-deploy themselves to some hopelessly under-manned district? Who would dare to write them up? The rhetoric of the local FOP has become harshly critical of the city, county, and state authorities.
In Portland, downtown businesses have hired heavily armed security contractors, to make up for the shortfall in police presence as a consequence of similar problems. This solution may not be viable for Chicago. Even if it were, it would not solve the real problem, which is that the streets of Chicago are now controlled by its criminal gangs, not its city government. Lori Lightfoot is Mayor of City Hall and not much else.
One of the worst parts about the situation Chicago is now in is that its current crop of elected officials cannot easily undo any of their “reforms” without losing the support of the unions that helped them win election. Recovering from the chaos on the streets would require them to repudiate all of their reforms, and to admit that the tragedy of the rare police involved shooting is far surpassed by the tragedy of the slaughter on their streets. Is there any way out of this mess? Even if there is an answer, it is not clear if anyone in authority knows it or would embrace it.
Over the coming months and years, Chicago will transform from a city that would not enforce the law to one that cannot enforce the law. The victims will be its law abiding people. The pile of bodies will continue to grow, and flight from the City, County, and State are likely to increase. Links below.