Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The train of troubles still rolling


     The Belgian National Railroad did a safety study, the old joke goes, and discovered that most accidents involve the last car on the train.
     So they got rid of the caboose.
     That isn't a very funny joke, but it is an apt one, in light of Tuesday's surprise firing of Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. You have an understaffed, overstretched police department charged with keeping the peace in the most segregated city in the United States, in a city whose murder rate is three times that of New York City, an ossified department that has proved maddeningly resistant to reform, whose officers — surprise, surprise — reflect all the fears and prejudices found in the society as a whole, and then some. When they screw up, as humans do, they go into their duck-and-cover act, forgetting that everyone has a video camera in their phone, and they're videotaping themselves in the bargain, so lying your way through a crisis just doesn't work the way it used to.
Garry McCarthy
   Solution? Put a new boss on top of that!
     Anyone think that replacing McCarthy with someone new will make anything better? Beyond making life better for McCarthy, that is, who now gets to lope off into the sunset to go lick his wounds as police chief of Rancho Mirage or some such garden spot, somewhere he doesn't have to listen to Rahm Emanuel scream at him twice a day. And the mayor gets to present firing McCarthy as the kind of dynamic action he likes to cite as evidence of his own endless chain of success, even though nothing at all is working for him lately, and the myth is definitely toast.
     Firing McCarthy doesn't solve any of Chicago's problems. In fact, it creates three more:
     Problem One: who replaces him? Someone from within the force who, weaned on the you've-got-my-back-I've-got-yours buddyism that is the air of the Chicago Police Department, knows how things work and could change them were he inclined to. But he wouldn't be; that's how he lasted so long in the first place. Anyone who has risen high enough within the CPD to be on the short list for superintendent should be excluded from consideration.
     Bring in an outsider, however, and the rank and file immediately hate him, on general principles, for being an outsider and suggesting that any young cop who arrives with a gun and dream can't grow up to be superintendent. They'll resist with all their might whatever Supt. Not-From-Here tries to do even more than they'd resist someone from within trying the same thing, not that someone from within would do anything beyond symbolic chair shuffling.
     That's Problem One. Problem Two: how Rahm Emanuel, whose reputation was built on his invincibility, weathers this latest humiliation and keeps from sinking into Early Onset Lame Duckism. Bad enough he was forced into a run-off with Chuy Garcia, a man who at times seemed challenged to fog a mirror. Now revivified by the smell of the mayor's blood, Garcia has reared up from his political grave to claw at the mayor. It's going to be a long three years for Emanuel. And us.
     Problem Three is the real problem, underlying all this. It isn't McCarthy's fault, or Emanuel's fault or even Anita Alvarez's fault, which is really saying something, because everything is her fault. That problem is: how do we fix the grotesque undervaluing of human life that is behind the Laquan McDonald atrocity? It's as if even the public doesn't want to notice. It wasn't the 16 shots, horrible as that was, that was the most horrible part of the video. It was the cops letting the teenager lie dying in the street, unaided, uncomforted, almost unnoticed. As if he were a dog. How do we fix that? Cameras might cow cops into grudgingly doing their jobs better, although Jason Van Dyke certainly wasn't inspired to excellence. Besides, cameras break. We need a police force that knows the people they're policing, the dreaded community policing that was tried and abandoned because it costs money and officers we don't have.
     The $5 million given to McDonald's family is viewed only as hush money. Anybody noticed another awful injustice: the same family that left him a ward of the state after two abuse investigations ​gets a giant payday at his death? You could hire a lot of cops for $5 million. And those cops could get to better know the people they're policing. And then they will be less inclined to shoot them.

29 comments:

  1. Rahm's firing of Garry McCarthy is meant to create the illusion that something is being done. I can hardly wait for an encore, which will occur when the Ronald Johnson video is released. No doubt Rahm will have a press conference and paraphrase Claude Rains, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that police misconduct is going on in Chicago!"

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  2. Good point, especially about how his negligent mom gets to profit from the $.

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  3. Many police and people see these human beings as rabid dogs

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  4. Many police and people see these human beings as rabid dogs

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  5. Didn't realize seeing the Sneed column today, that as of Monday night, McC. still thought he had a job. That was cold. Mitchell is right, in her column today saying that Rahm has earned the title of master manipulator.

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    1. McCarthy should have resigned after his illness in 2014. He didn't realize that Rahm didn't have his back and maybe he shouldn't have his back.

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    2. Never believe anything that Sneed writes!
      She always has a grudge against somebody & is willing to lie in her column to take that grudge to a new level!

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    3. I always found her overly sympathetic to Gov. Ryan and from her own writings, sounds like she drinks too much. She's a snob too and never answers a readers email, even if it's complimentary.

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  6. Until this video surfaced, everyone was happy with the status quo, and I'm not just talking about the infamous trinity of Emanuel, McCarty and Alvarez. This includes the city council, black community leaders, better off citizens of Chicago, even state and federal leadership. It's no secret how corrupt the CPD is, including the prosectors who back them up and protect the bad players, just as it's no secret that black-on-black crime is acceptable too (as long as they keep the violence contained in their own neighborhoods). And how about the press, who back up the mayor and the police with their statistics while reporting the nightly blood bath? It's the fault of poor parenting, poor schools, not enough gun laws, and on and on. Nobody ever suggests there's a way to clean up problem neighborhoods or the police department. Everyone will be happy with Rahm's new bandaid, shh, let's get back to our lives and let the status quo continue. And, please, don't allow protesters to interrupt our Christmas shopping on the Mag Mile again!

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  7. Come back in a year & there will still be dozens of shootings every night by the scum in the gangs. Cops will still be abusing people as they will figure out a way to screw up their body cameras, which will be in seven districts by June.
    CPD is a cancer that must be cured by getting rid of at least half the department!
    McCarthy was forced by the black aldermen to lower the hiring standards. It used to be a four year college degree, now it's a two year one.
    Remember 15 or so years ago, when New Haven CT. refused to hire a guy because he was too smart? That's what we have here in Chicago.
    We hire the bullies for the police, not the smart people who understand conflict resolution. Our cops understand how to make a situation worse, not better.

    My dad had a saying about cops: Were you born an asshole or did you have to take lessons?
    With Chicago cops it seems to be, they were born assholes & then get lessons on how to be even worse assholes!

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    1. Gee, you don't have to hide your feelings on this website - tell us what you really think.

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    2. What a stupid & useless comment!
      That's what we do when commenting here, we say what we think!

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    3. Meanwhile, we interrupt this commentary on the direness of everything in Chicago to note an ongoing mass shooting in a government facility in sunny San Bernardino. Up to 12 dead and many wounded. Another day at the office.

      On cops and how they behave everywhere, I witnessed on two occasions London Bobbies come in to deal with the riotous situations that sometime occur around popular pubs on Friday nights. Rough stuff, and they were far from models of sensitivity. I suppose it is trite to observe that nobody was killed because the only weapon were the copper's folding metal batons. No guns.

      Tom Evans

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    4. These mass shootings are getting to be a weekly event.

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    5. Certainly agree with the readers comment section in the paper today about how some under the Chicago cops constituency have no respect for life or police. One could add -as told by family friends- no respect for firefighters, small business people, kids, teachers, elderly or women either.

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  8. On the other hand,if cops had no guns here, they'd be sitting ducks for thugs to shoot at.

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  9. Not advocating disarming American cops. Only pointing out that when both sides are lethally armed, as is the case in this country, conflict will inevitably result in death. no matter how well behaved the police are. Too late for us, but I would advise English friends to strenuously resist the argument that having more guns in circulation would make them more safe.

    TE

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  10. Mr. at 3:42, do agree with you in part, but only about what one sees on the police blotter pages.

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  11. The city will burn when Van Dyke is acquitted. And he will be. He will request a judge and not a jury trial. He will not plead down to lesser charges. First degree requires premeditation, malice, and forethought. He will use a defense based on strict liability which holds him responsible for any actions that McDonald would have committed later had he not been stopped then. I don't see how the prosecution has a winnable case. After accepting the 5 million hush money, how can they call the family members as credible witnesses? And the defense will surely introduce the 911 calls about McDonald's actions leading up to the fatal encounter. Brace yourselves because in about 18 months the verdict will be in and all hell will break out.

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  12. Claim: "You have an understaffed, overstretched police department.."

    Truth: the City of Chicago has more police officers per 100,000 residents than any of the top four largest cities in the country. It also shows that the CPD has been among the top two in officers per 100,000 residents since at least 1995, by a very large margin. You can see that the Chicago hovers in the high to mid 400s for officers per 100,000 residents while Los Angeles (a city with a larger population) for the entire fifteen year period covered by the data hovers in the mid to high 200s. Source: http://chicagojustice.org/blog/police-staffing-in-america2019s-5-largest-cities

    Verdict: Maybe the people in many of Chicago's hoods just like to kill each other. Everone needs a hobby.

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  13. I don't want to be identified as Anonymous 1 - so maybe going with Anonymous 2. Interesting story tonight on NPR that discussed how other places do this. In particular, British Columbia (Canada) has professional independent investigators who investigate all killings. The issue of gangs killing others in the neighborhood is bad, but we're funding the police - that is a part of what is so awful about Laquan McDonald. I think that $5M would pay for a lot of retraining police officers. Also think that this is an interesting perspective: http://www.mindfulnessandjustice.org/about/cheri-maples/

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  14. Yes, $5M would pay for a lot of retraining for police officers. So would the over $500M spent since 2004 or 2008 (depending on the source) the city paid in settlements for police misconduct...not to mention another $300M or so paid for other settlements. These amounts do not include legal fees.

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    1. Funny line, NS, about Chuey having to fog up a mirror.

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    2. The cop might be tried as being temporarily insane. Maybe he had PTSD.

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  15. Wed.ST has a piece of Rahm chiding a reporter for revealing where he's going on Xmas vacation. He says his wife is going to yell at him. I doubt if Rahm is afraid of anyone.

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  16. So Rahm has backtracked from being against the fed investigation. Why was he against to begin with? coverup worries?

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  17. Yes, he better not go to Paris. He needs to focus here. Let the President take care of the global warming conference.

    ag

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  18. Rahm must be sorry that he ran again for mayor or won. Sure, let's trust his Task Force. Don't think so.

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