Don Rose: Rahm's Murder Problem - And Ours
Submitted by arlenegloria on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 09:06
Rahm’s Murder Problem
By Don Rose
All through his mayoral campaign I kept pointing out that high crime rates in certain neighborhoods would not be reduced without redeployment of police into those areas. Candidate and later Mayor refused to agree for obvious political reasons. I also pleaded that it was not just the number of cops needed, but a strategic shift to genuine community policing, a proven anticrime approach that was essentially shammed during the Daley years.
The city needs at least 1,000 and perhaps up to 2,000 more policemen, according to their union as well as outside observers, but little effort has been made in that direction. Instead, Emanuel and top cop Garry McCarthy broke up the motorcycle task force and another floating cadre of officers (who have not always behaved well) and assigned them willy-nilly onto beats in high-crime black and Latino areas. This was done with no essential shift in training or approach to those communities, where they have not yet gained any significant neighborhood trust, which is essential to crime and gang control.
With all due respect to McCarthy, who seems to have some good ideas and is open to others, such as teaming up to a limited extent with Cease Fire—an effective but limited crime prevention program—the chickens seem to have come home to roost.
This year, as most of the country knows by now, Chicago may be on its way to becoming the murder capital of America’s largest cities. Killings are up by 35 percent over 2011, from 169 to 228 (plus this past weekend’s toll), with no end in sight. Further, small mobs of kids, teens who may or may not be gang affiliated, have swarmed wealthy white areas, CTA trains and the heart of downtown itself, executing petty thefts and beating victims seemingly for fun—terrorizing “safe” parts of the city. (Victims were black, white and Asian, so it doesn’t appear to be all about race.)
The city’s first mistake was not adding new officers trained in community policing. It can’t just be left to local commanders to pick up “intelligence.” Second, the now disbanded mobile task forces would be the ideal way of swiftly catching up to many of the swarms, regardless of neighborhood, and either breaking them up or capturing perps. The punks who operate in those mobs do it because they know they can.
Most important, while police leaders make pleas to community residents to tell what they know about specific crimes or gang-related activities, they get little response, essentially because the force has largely done nothing to forge trust or friendship. The police complain about neighborhood codes of “omerta” or silence, while maintaining their own omerta code, staying silent or actually covering for the relatively few bad cops who contaminate the whole barrel—from torturer Jon Burge down to brutal or corrupt individuals.
Trust is a two-way street. The police culture of supporting and even making heroes out of miscreant cops has to change before minority neighborhoods—some abused by both criminals and cops—will ever believe in Officer Friendly.
Don Rose is a regular columnist in the Chicago Observer, where this column first appeared.