Who is Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke’s clout?

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.

As a Chicago Tribune editorial pointed out:

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.

Read why Americans need to learn about the nation's most ignored war .

Find out what freelance editorial services I can provide for you.

Want to be notified by email when I post? Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.


Leave a comment
  • I had the same thought. Any ideas who it could be?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I have no suspects. But I bet it wouldn't be all that hard for investigators to find out. I suspect that with all those complaints that he skated out of, he must have bragged to someone.

  • I wondered the exact same thing. My fear is that this person will somehow impact the trial as well.
    Whoever it is, he or she must really like/owe this guy.

  • fb_avatar

    Where does he live? Is it his alderman (Burke), State Rep (Madigan), State Sen (Cullerton) or anothe Democrat down the line of State or County Government? A big donor? it is the Chicago Way

  • Nice piece Dennis. Clout is indeed alive and well in Chicago. When I worked for two years in the Central Office of the Chicago Public Schools in few years back, I was the rare bird who didn't have a sponsor. A lot of my colleagues would ask me who I knew to get my job. I would hold up an open hand, wiggle my thumb and joke, "I'm the 5th man on a 4-man city work crew -- you know, the one who works." Everyone always laughed because they all had someone like me in their department -- that person relied on when something absolutely had to get done right and right away. (Suffice it to say, I stayed only two years before looking for a better work-ethic match than public sector work.)

    But the one line in your piece that did not ring true was this: "No doubt, the hiring of Chicago police officers is more closely monitored these days." It's one of those false palliatives that our worst days are safely in our rearview mirror, and somehow the morally misguided stewards of our public institutions have already seen the errors of their ways and corrected things out of the goodness of their hearts. But Chicago police have literally gotten away for decades with murder, use of violence to coerce false confessions, rigged entrance exams, and putting innocent men on death row. Daley looked the other way, and now Rahm. Our police and politicians are also part of the decades of unending and expanding gang violence can only happen with the connivance of police and politicians, as alarmingly outlined in this 2011 Chicago Magazine article, "Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance": http://tinyurl.com/78jzxyr

  • Thanks for your thoughtful and interesting comment. Milton Rakove's "We don't want nobody that nobody sent" apparently still is alive and well. My "monitored" comment only reflected my uncertainty about the present state of things. Good to have your observation added to the mix.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Visit my new website

    I'm a freelance writer, editor and author. I can help you with a wide variety of projects. Check out my new website at www.dennisbyrne.net

  • Subscribe to The Barbershop

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Dennis Byrne’s Facebook Fan Page

  • Like me on Facebook

  • Our National Debt

  • Twitter

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

  • /Users/dennisby/Desktop/trailer.mp4
  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: