Arresting Tales

CPD rank and file protest against Superintendent Weis

Weis protest.jpg

Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune


Hundreds of Chicago Police Department officers gathered outside CPD headquarters today to call for the resignation of Superintendent Weis.  Officers cited manpower shortages, damaged morale and poor leadership.

The demonstration follows controversy over Weis' August meeting with Chicago street gang leaders and the ongoing fallout from a blog post written by CPD Lt. John Andrews.  The post by Andrews appeared on his personal blog in July; in it he excoriated the the leadership of the Chicago Police Department and the political leadership of Chicago, referring to a "circle of corruption".  Here's a taste:

Contributing factors that have led to the paralysis of the CPD:

• Decimation of existing top-tier leadership by incoming Superintendent
• Lack of leadership / Administrative incompetence
• Overt political corruption within the ranks
• Reductions in field strength levels that have left personnel in dangerous working conditions
• Reductions in field strength levels that have severely limited police effectiveness at protecting life and property or maintaining order on Chicago streets.

Based on the above and other contributing factors, the rank and file of the Chicago Police Department do not have confidence in their leadership. They perceive a number of current "bosses" as incompetent, politically corrupt, or both - beginning with the mayor and police superintendent. (emphasis mine)
The CPD has since launched an internal investigation against Lt. Andrews, which is not surprising--most departments have some general order that limits the manner in which officers may criticize their own agency.  Andrews has, in the meantime, made the rounds of local talk shows, and I'm sure he will have a number of lawyers eager to defend his free speech rights.

Wednesday's demonstration was not the first time CPD officers have demonstrated against the current administration.  In March 2009, the Fraternal Order of Police issued a "no confidence" vote against Weis, citing "low morale, poorly staffed districts, lack of cars and a lack of support."  The last time Chicago officers took such an action was in 1997, against then-Superintendent Matt Rodriguez.  Rodriguez resigned two weeks later.

In April 2009 thousands of officers demonstrated at City Hall, angry at their own administration and the lack of a contract.

Which brings us back to today's protest.  In contrast to April 2009, there were hundreds instead of thousands of protesters.  The always-informative Second City Cop expressed concern over the "disjointed strategy" of the F.O.P. in a recent post, and you can see some lively commentary and debate in the comments here.

Another (frequently and by turns hilarious and wildly offensive) blog, DSLC, has an excellent series of videos from the protest here, here, and here.

Finally, a word about former Officer William Cozzi.  This piece at Chicago Breaking News brought out the usual cascade of ignorant comments from cop haters.  Many of them seemed to latch onto the "Free Cozzi" signs and dismissed the entire demonstration as being a result of angry, fat, brutal cops resenting the outsider (Weis).

In 2005 Cozzi, a 15-year veteran cop with "an unblemished record" and no history of abuse, was called to Norwegian American hospital to help control a drunk, combative man in the emergency room.  After handcuffing the man into a wheelchair, Cozzi lost his temper and struck the man several times about the head and shoulders.  The man was not injured. 

Cozzi was later arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery.  It appeared that he had literally "snapped" at the time of the incident.  He admitted he was wrong, pleaded guilty, paid fines and served 18 months probation.  Then-Supt. Phil Kline moved to have Cozzi fired, but the Police Board (made up of political appointees) ruled that he could be restored to his job after completing his sentence and a two-year suspension from the department.

Just before Cozzi would have returned to work, new Supt. Weis contacted former colleagues in the US Department of Justice.  There is some dispute over Weis' exact role, but the perception is that he ensured that Cozzi, after serving his state sentence, would be prosecuted for federal civil rights violation.  Weis made an example out of him, and destroyed the life of a good man who made a terrible mistake for which he had already been punished. 

Cozzi was subsequently re-arrested; he pleaded guilty and is currently serving 40 months in a federal penitentiary in Louisiana.

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7 Comments

irishpirate said:

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The problems in the CPD go beyond Weis and straight to the fifth floor at City Hall. Hopefully, the new Mayor will bring in a law enforcement professional with appropriate experience and leave said professional the hell alone.

As for Cozzi I don't think Federal charges were appropriate. I also don't think he should have been let back in uniform. He not only hit the guy, he lied about it. Which would be a natural first reaction when your ass and pension are on the line.

Some way should have been found to let him "retire" with a reduced pension or shift him over to a civilian job until he was pension qualified.

Many urban cops burn out and forcing them to stick around for the pension probably isn't the wisest way to go about policing. PTSD is not only limited to military personnel.

Offer cops the opportunity to shift over to another city job after a certain period of years. They could even be kept in a "reserve" police status for times when manpower is short.

Cozzi's federal sentence is absolutely nutz, particularly since there is no parole in the federal system. Again, a way needs to be found to take care of cops who lose it or screw up. His actions are one hell of a lot less egregious than cops who steal, torture, sell info to the mob or worse.


Joe the Cop said:

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I've often thought that the concept of the sabbatical leave (as enjoyed by academia and the clergy) would be a healthy thing for cops' mental and physical health. I know it's totally impractical.

Most guys I know weren't upset at the idea of Cozzi being fired; they were angry at the idea of a new supt. making an example out of him by using his DOJ connections.

irishpirate said:

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Federal Civil Rights charges should not be used in a case like this.

Such charges should only be considered where there has been a systemic violation or civil rights and/or an active conspiracy.

Cozzi lost his temper and hit the guy. Apparently there was little physical damage done. This was best handled by the department and the States Attorney.

I have a serious mistrust of prosecutors, particularly federal prosecutors. Sometimes they need to use "discretion".

As for Weis I just read an amusing line over at SCC blog. Something about being a two cigarette whore at a prison picnic. It wasn't directed at him, but he best leave Chicago when his contract is up. He is loathed here.

Moshucat said:

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Sorry can't post again unless it is a one liner like this.

irishpirate said:

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..........and now for something completely different.

Perhaps the greatest trailer ever for a TV show.

This is one cop who is having a bad few days.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nteOM0l_zEY

Brian 'Wiz' Ray said:

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The FOP is the reason the AAPL exists, it is not in the best interest of the city, the people or the police. The idea that they would or could support an asswipe like Burge does not damage their credibility, it simple destroys it. When cops start getting rid of bad cops, when teachers stop covering for bad teachers, Christians for bad Christians, Muslims for bad Muslims. brothas for bad brothas, the world will be a much better place. The big assed difference between brothas, Muslims and Christians - and teachers and cops is pay. You all accept that bullshit and the pay.

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