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Murder, Trust and the Police

Don Rose 26 March 2013 One Comment

murdercrowThey buried 6-month-old Jonyiah Watkins last week, only a few short weeks after 15-year-old Hadiyah Pendleton was put to earth. Both children were “collateral damage” in Chicago’s gang wars. They arrested a rare suspect in Hadiyah’s case, but the wars and killing continue while arrests remain rare.

A Chicago alderman, in a refrain frequently made during the Capone era, pleaded with gangbangers just to kill each other and leave noncombatants alone.

Is this what we’ve come to?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police chief Garry McCarthy vainly plead with communities to break their code of silence and offer leads to the killings. They’ve even recruited athletes to urge folks not to be afraid to “snitch.”

They tried to put more beat cops on the streets by breaking up a couple of mobile squads—then found they needed those squads. They released sworn personnel from desk jobs that could be handled by civilians—a move recommended in police manuals decades ago. It’s all a juggling act.

We have neither added the needed thousand cops nor—heaven forfend—redeployed police from low- to high-crime areas, which is politically unpopular. Worse, they haven’t trained cops in genuine community policing.

They claim to have initiated community policing, the key ingredient in breaking down the longstanding barriers between the department and victimized areas, but the effort is little more than a glorified version of the half-baked CAPS “beat representative” program Richard M. Daley palmed off years ago.

True community policing is a genuine partnership with a neighborhood based on trust built over time between long-term beat officers and neighborhoods they serve. It takes training and commitment.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice manual, “Establishing and maintaining mutual trust is the central goal of the first core component of community policing—community partnership. Police recognize the need for cooperation within the community. In [the past] fight against serious crime the police have encouraged community members to come forth with relevant information. In addition, police have spoken to neighborhood groups and worked with social agencies and taken part in educational and recreational programs for school children…. So how do the cooperative efforts of community policing differ from the actions that have taken place previously? The fundamental distinction is that in community policing the police become an integral part of the community culture and the community assists in defining future priorities and in allocating resources. The difference is substantial…”

Here, on the contrary, the police maintain their own code of silence about miscreant or corrupt officers. The department, the states attorney and the mayor are like the three monkeys covering eyes, ears and mouths, refusing even to apologize for Jon Burge’s torture mill or help proven innocents get out of prison.

If we are to have the trust that genuinely helps solve crime, the city and police must do their part by ending their code of silence and embracing true community policing. Otherwise we will be mourning the Joniyahs and the Hadiyahs until our tears run dry.

What’s it going to be Mayor Emanuel: Officer Friendly or Officer Krupke?

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

image a Murder of Crows

One Comment »

  • Manus A. Edwards said:

    March 27, 2013

    Don, I think you have hit the nail on the head, I personally don’t know of any African American adult or child who trust the Chicago police and it didn’t get this way until 1991. This article should be framed and placed in the front lobby of all police stations and city hall. We all know that respect is earned not demanded.

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