That old saying that “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” is what may be happening in the communities where mistrust of the police is so prevalent. When you have a single police officer, or several officers committing misdeeds, including murder, against members of the communities they are sworn to “serve and protect,” and those deeds go unchecked by fellow officers or the precinct watch commanders who are responsible for controlling and reigning in the bad conduct of their officers in the field, the communities will equate those misdeeds to the entire force. This is human nature, and to be expected. It is up to the police precincts to foster and maintain a more cooperative relationship with their communities. In order to do this, they must bring those officers responsible for criminal activities within those neighborhoods, to justice. It is inexcusable to make any attempt to justify criminal activity committed by law enforcement, and to expect the communities to support those same law enforcement officers. A “code of silence” has no place in law enforcement.
Chicago Police Department and its Code of Silence
A “code of silence” amongst law enforcement officers will go a long way in perpetuating acts of misconduct and the cover-up of police officer misdeeds and actual police criminal conduct within certain precincts. This unwritten code prevents a police officer from “snitching” on another police officer if he is aware that, that officer has engaged in some form of misconduct. Fear of retaliation and intimidation for providing evidence of police misconduct has no place in law enforcement. If such conduct is allowed within the ranks of our police officers, you will see a total breakdown between law enforcement and the communities.
Chicago’s city attorneys are now willing to admit to a federal jury at the trial in the case of two such “whistleblower cops that a “code of silence” does, in fact exist, if the admission would prevent the requirement of Mayor Emanuel from having to take the witness stand on this issue. The federal judge ruled that Mayor Emanuel’s testimony would be necessary despite the city attorney’s admission because the Mayor’s testimony would shed light onto the pervasiveness of this problem. See more information on this subject at the Chicago Tribune.
This court ruling came in the wake of the city’s recent scandal involving the shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer that was touted as routine and justified, until the police dash cam video of the shooting came to light. See Chicago Tribune for more information about the Laquan McDonald matter.
The Death of Laquan McDonald
One of the police whistleblowers outed the incident surrounding the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by another police officer as something other than a justified police shooting. It took a year after the shooting for this new evidence, via the police dash camera, to come to light and expose the shooting death to be a case of murder. The video shows a Chicago police officer firing 16 rounds into a black teenager, who was armed with a small knife, and who appeared to be trying to get away from the officer, not advancing toward him in a menacing manner. The majority of the bullets fired into McDonald were fired while he lay in the street dying.
It is a given that law enforcement needs the communities’ involvement and cooperation to put a lid on crime in many of the “at risk” neighborhoods. It is also a given that that cooperation must be based on a mutual trust between law enforcement and those community members. This trust cannot grow on a foundation of criminal activity within the ranks of law enforcement. That is why there is no place for a “code of silence” within the police departments. There cannot be one set of laws for the residents of “at risk” communities and another set of laws for law enforcement.
If at any time you feel that there has been an occurrence involving law enforcement and you or a loved one resulting from an unjustified use of force, the place to challenge that abuse is not on the street, but in a court of law. In such situations, you will require the expertise of an experience criminal law attorney who will be committed to protecting your rights, call the Law Offices of David Freidberg, at (312) 560-7100, or send an email, for a free no-obligation consultation.