Who is Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke’s clout? That would be the guy who was able to protect what appears to be a rogue cop from discipline and firing.
This is the person once was called, in Chicago parlance, his “chinaman,” but political correctness has annihilated that offensive usage. Nonetheless, one can legitimately not be surprised that someone whose record is as tainted as Van Dyke's would end up charged with the wanton murder of Laquan McDonald. The warning signs abounded.
Since 2006, Van Dyke had been named in 17 citizen complaints, including three alleging excessive force, yet was never disciplined. Now he’s facing a first-degree murder charge for pumping 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald as seven other officers looked on without firing a shot.
The editorial properly asks for a vetting of the Chicago Police Department's disciplinary procedures. Blame is being laid last the doorsteps of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the now-fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Blue Ribbon committees are appointed, calls go out for an "independent" investigation and the U.S. Justice Department probes.
Yet, if we want to really get to the bottom of this outrage, to find out who's really to blame, we need to nail Van Dyke's clout. The guy (or gal) who in the face of repeated complaints against him, saved Van Dyke's job. It's the Chicago Way.
Not to paint the entire Chicago Police Department with a broad brush, but the idea of politically connected Chicago cops is neither new or beyond the pale. Years and years ago my uncle quit the department because of the pervasive use of political connections to get plum assignments and promotions. (He ended up working for a collar county sheriff's office as a detective.) It's generally accepted wisdom the a nice, cushy assignment to O'Hare Airport is garnered by using political connections. No doubt, the hiring of Chicago police officers is more closely monitored these days, but that's no guarantee that Van Dyke's (and how many other cops?) slipping under the radar was no coincidence.
Scream and shout, as we will and must, about the mayor and other top dogs taking responsibility for McDonald's murder, we won't really get to the real cause of the killing until the police department's culture is exposed by recounting the who, what, when, why and how of Van Dyke's clout.
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