Politics and the Chicago Police Board/A Jury of Their Peers/ Instead They got Jeers

The Chicago Police Board for those who are not familiar is a 9 member Board who are selected by the City’s mayor and with the advice and consent of the City Council are charged with hearing disciplinary cases brought against Chicago Police officers.  It’s pretty much a given that the mayor selects the people he wants since I cannot recall in the last 50 to 55 years or so the City Council ever objecting to a mayors selection. Most are highly placed individuals that run from well-heeled law firms to reverends, Community activists, a current gas company executive and others who a mayor favors for one reason or another. They meet once a month and have a few other duties besides discipline but we’ll stick to the script here. Last week in a highly publicized decision they came to a decision that 4 Chicago Police Officers should be fired for their involvement in the so-called Laquan McDonald cover-up.  They have spoken. However,  there is this enormous Elephant in the room that is being totally ignored. The following was my response printed today by the Chicago  Sun-Times Editorial  Board Monday 22 July 1300 hrs.

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“The Chicago Police Board by firing 4 officers in the LaQuan McDonald case has spoken, but there is also a very important message that’s not being addressed and in my opinion, it’s the biggest message of all. NOT ONE SUPERVISOR above the rank of Sergeant has ever been fired or disciplined in any way in regards to the McDonald shooting. After 33 years as a Chicago Police Officer and over 3 years as a Marine, it was always drilled into my head that LEADERSHIP starts at the top. It’s a fantasy to conclude that one lowly sergeant had the sole responsibility to sign off on such a critical investigation and yet that’s the message that’s being sent. Supervisors are paid handsomely to do just that, but ultimately it seems that going after the low hanging fruit is the easy way out. There are at least 6 layers pf supervision above the rank of sergeant, the question is where were they and why were they not held accountable? Until command supervisors are held responsible for the actions of their subordinates more and more incidents will continue to plague an already beleaguered department. Supervision is a tough job that’s why the pay and prestige are what they are. Covering up or running for cover is cowardly in the face of tough decisions, and the good hardworking Men and Women representing the rank and file deserve the best leadership possible. Simple Question WHERE WERE THE COMMAND OFFICERS. It’s a question that has to be asked at every incident.”

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The phrase a Jury of Peers dates back to the signing of the Magna Carta in England ‘s Runnymede in 1215. At that point, the provision insured that members of the nobility were tried by a jury composed of fellow nobles rather than be judged by a king. Hence in today’s world a fellow citizen. As it stands even today the State picks a jury of peers by first RANDOMLY selecting local citizens for the jury pool. One can clearly see even with or without bias 9 people especially selected by a mayor pukes in the face of a JURY OF PEERS. In my opinion, the Chicago Police Board has outlasted its stay( Patrick Murry FOP).  One has to look no further than former mayor Rahm Emanuel who was bound by City ordinance to pick one of 3 names given to him by his very own Police Board. In the end, Rahm ignored their picks an opted to select the present day (at least for now) Superintendent Eddie Johnson who never even applied for the job. I wonder why? Any decision the Police Board makes from here on out will always drag the stench of politics along with it. Those 4 officers most certainly did not get a trial by a jury of peers. Whether they were guilty or not the current system stinks to the heavens. Here’s why.

A sergeant’s duties are to sign off on reports that all his subordinates submit, so shifts of maybe 15 to 20 reports. He’s not involved in investigating each and every circumstance, he’s ensuring the reports are turned in, complete, understandable and properly formulated. His responsibility does not include the truthfulness of facts currently unknown.  To do so would entail 100s of hours of investigative work. That is left to the followup investigators and supervisors. By firing the sergeant that signed off on the report the Police Board concluded that the sergeant had time to view PART of the video of the incident.

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What has remained the 3 Elephants in the room which they never mentioned is that THE ENTIRE COMMAND STAFF WATCHED THE VIDEO IN IT’S ENTIRETY AND READ ALL THE REPORTS AND SIGNED OFF ON THEM AS CONCURRING? Now for the real stinker to add to the stench, the current Superintendent himself Eddie Johnson who at the time was the Chief of Patrol viewed the video and was a concurring participant. Chicago politics at it’s worse. But hey they got 4 scapegoats, case closed. The biggest police scandal in Chicago’s history and nobody above the rank of sergeant paid a price. In Chicago, the squeaky wheel doesn’t get greased “IT GETS REPLACED”. FIRST VICE PRESIDENT OF FOP PATRICK MURRAY APPEARED BEFORE THE POLICE BOARD AND PROBABLY SAID IT ALL. This Board has seen it’s day time to disband. Hear Hear Patrick.

 

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