* Neil Steinberg writes about the problems created after the ouster of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy…
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.
He’s right, unfortunately.
The city needs more than just somebody new at the top of the force. The entire department needs an attitude adjustment. Some new state laws limiting the powers of the police union might be something to look at. Let’s look again at what McCarthy said on TV yesterday moments before he was fired…
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy admitted Tuesday on NBC Chicago that the initial press release sent out after 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was fatally shot 16 times by an officer last year was wrong.
“The initial press release was mistaken, no two ways about it,” he said. “I guess that’s my fault.” […]
McCarthy added that he didn’t see dash-cam video of the shooting until the day after the press release went out.
“At that point I was too involved in trying to learn the circumstances of this event and what I needed to do internally and externally and communication is a part of that, no two ways about it, but in this particular case my greatest concern was that information came from elsewhere that he had lunged at the officers, which we knew not be the case and that was what I was trying to fix behind the scenes with the FOP quite frankly,” he said.
Emphasis added for obvious reasons, because, I mean, what the heck, man? If the FOP is so powerful that it can cow a superintendent into participating in a 13-month coverup, then the FOP needs to be reined in. But I doubt anything can be done about it on the state level because the governor has made anti-union issues his top priority and the Democrats have reacted by retreating to the arms of organized labor.
* Back to Steinberg…
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.
Agreed on all counts, except for the dog part. I’m betting they’d give aid and comfort to a dying dog. The officers walked past that bleeding kid like he didn’t even exist. He might as well have been a fly on a windshield.