Articles Tagged with police shootings

spenser-h-194645-copy-300x195Chicago is a city that has long been criticized for failing on transparency, accountability, and justice issues. Some of these criticisms are not based on fact but are rather like urban myths. They grow and have lives of their own, the facts of the matter being largely inconsequential. The city has adopted a unique approach that takes into consideration the views and perspectives of those who work within the criminal justice system. Hence, there are proposals for a sitting or retired judge to oversee the entire process. This inclusive approach brings the police into the fold rather than treating them as sworn enemies of civil liberties.

Other cities have a somewhat different approach to reform. They consider their own law enforcement agencies to be fundamentally anti-people. Therefore, the reform process is necessarily imposed on them rather than being a natural progression towards organizational development. In this case, the format is that of a public inquiry with all the requisite appearance of interrogations and investigations.

Not surprisingly, some members of the Chicago police forces are not entirely pleased with the latter approach. They believe that they too are part of the reform agenda and desire to provide high-quality services to the citizenry. Even when mistakes are made, they are nothing more than that. It is not a case of corrupt agencies taking away the rights of the people.

zjrupeakpzi-aidan-meyer-300x200There are few issues that are guaranteed to raise legal temperatures higher than that of “justified police shootings.” Issues of outright racism and civil rights have come to the fore as a consequence of this specific issue. The media has played its role in sensational coverage, which often masks the serious legal issues at stake. You only have to read about the Laquan McDonald case to understand some of the complexities involved.

The fact that the law is not very clear gives leeway to all sorts of interpretation. The law enforcement officers have assumed (incorrectly) that the law is designed to cover them at every opportunity. Meanwhile, the courts are left somewhat hopeless by the experience of having to litigate and mediate that which is nearly impossible to handle fairly. The charged atmosphere also means that consideration has to be given to the practicalities of how the verdict will be received.

The Starting Point

police officersThere have been several incidents recently where a Chicago Police Officer has been involved in conduct that was either illegal or borderline illegal. This should not reflect on the hundreds of officers that are outstanding in the performance of their duties, but unfortunately, it does. The responsibility should be laid at the feet of the administrators that turn a blind eye to problem officers who create an atmosphere of mistrust in their communities.

The Chicago Police Department recently came under fire over the perceived “code of silence” with respect to giving any evidence of potential police corruption within a precinct. A federal court judge has given a green light for Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be called before the court to give testimony regarding this practice. This court ruling may have significant ramifications for the way the police department will be required to conduct their investigations into internal affairs going forward.

The actions of police departments across the nation have been placed under microscopic scrutiny due to several highly politicized incidents involving law enforcement and the neighborhoods that they patrol. In several incidents, the police have been exonerated. Even so, some believe that cover ups do occur. In such a climate, any possibility that evidence of true police misconduct is being covered up by a “code of silence” will lead to mistrust, especially in those communities that need the police the most.