Depending on the version of the Ten Commandments, the eighth or ninth is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” – in simpler terms, you shouldn’t tell lies, especially a lie intended to falsely accuse another person. I was reminded again, of the damage done by malicious accusations, upon reading this horrifying story, linked through Insty – because there was such a malicious person in the neighborhood where my family lived for more than a decade – a person given to making random and spurious accusations about his neighbors. When I wrote about my family, I called this residence Hilltop House – a post-war bungalow perched on the knee of a range of hills, surrounded by similar and rather modest houses on half-acre or quarter-acre lots, spread out along a rambling tangle of narrow roads above Sunland-Tujunga. A good block away from Hilltop house was a cul d sac of about half a dozen houses; one of the residents in the cul d sac was an older couple … and the man, who I will call Felix S. began to go nuts. Like bankruptcy, it happened slowly and then all at once. He became convinced that his neighbors were all part of a vast conspiracy to manufacture drugs and that there were tunnels and pipelines running the drugs between all the houses around him, and that odors from the drug manufacturing were poisoning the air around his house. Eventually, he put up all kinds of industrial fans around his yard, intended to blow the fumes away, and became notorious as the “Fan Man.” But that came later.
It was a comment on this blog which struck me immediately upon reading it. The subsequent discussion in the comment thread was how antisocial behavior on the part of massive numbers of homeless people setting up massive, festering camps in the downtown areas of certain cities was making those cities less and less inviting for ordinary people. In the final analysis, no one really wants to come to work in a place where they have to step around feces on the sidewalk, dodge the aggressive panhandler outside a downtown restaurant, or run from the homicidal crazy looking to shove someone off the subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Downtown retailers can’t keep on in business long when the merchandise walks out the door, assisted by undocumented shoppers; so, eventually the normals – that is, those of us with jobs, property, and a liking for clean, non-threatening surroundings – decamp the urban jungle for something a little less edgy, usually taking our dollars, investments, responsible civic behavior, and tax base with us.
Why on earth do certain cities – San Francisco and Los Angeles being the two which spring to mind almost at once – allow this to continue? What benefit does it give to see gracious, scenic, and culturally-attractive cities descend into a condition which repels longtime residents and new visitors alike? What’s in it for the civic managers of such urban centers … and as it was pointed out, there’s money in it.
A marked increase in the number of rude, rotten, and outright dangerous drivers is a local thing that my daughter and I, and a scattering of friends have noticed over the last several months. It has been, as my daughter noted, an increased number of Third World drivers, on our local roads. A lot of near-misses, carelessness in lane-changing, ignorance of use of the turn indicators, and a fair amount of road rage… including a shooting on a stretch of the IH-35 on the South Side of the city. While the South Side is largely and traditionally Hispanic, and has neighborhoods in it which have a reputation for being violent, especially after dark, I used to drive clear across town on my daily commute, from the largely Anglo, or white north-east side of town, to the Southside, and I often noticed that the drivers on the South side were a hell of a lot more courteous about allowing merges and lane changes on the IH-35.
(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.
(Part 2 is here.)
A Chicago Boyz reader writes:
Recently, two CPD uniformed officers were shot in the head during a traffic stop.
How did this happen? What happened? The detailed answers to these questions will be unfolded as the post-shooting investigation discovers the facts and assembles them into a narrative that “explains” what happened. As is so often the case, the analysis will focus on the actions of the officers, their failures to act as policy or training requires, and their poor performance even when they were acting as they were supposed to. All such analyses are riddled with hindsight bias, and invariably neglect the forces that now shape the interactions of the CPD with the public. You might ask: “What are you talking about?”
Several years ago, the City of Chicago signed a consent decree with the (Obama) Justice Department. The decree required that an officer formulate articulable suspicion prior to initiating any contact with a member of the public. As part of the decree, officers were and are required to fill out a detailed form every time they initiate such an interaction. Failure to fill out the form completely or accurately carries a risk of sanction. Net effect? Contact with the public went down by 80-90%, as did arrests. It turns out that seasoned police officers can talk people into disclosing a lot of information about criminal activity just by talking to them. A conversation that began with a hunch and without articulable suspicion often ended with probable cause for arrest.
No matter, the drop in arrests has become less important. Why?