In a recent column, John Kass of the Tribune asks a question that is very much on the minds of lots of people these days including some cops themselves. “WHO WOULD WANT TO BE A COP IN CHICAGO.” What type of individual runs toward gunfire when everyone else is fleeing for their lives, what type of person wants to constantly deal with suffering, injustice, and cruelty, and who wants to hear the sobbing and grieving of victims and loved ones, and who wants to be around gangsters, killers and sociopaths, and have to make split-second life and death decisions that sometimes take investigative agencies weeks and even months to decide if it was the right one.
What type of individual wants to be judged by incidents perpetrated by others in the profession that are sometimes hundreds of miles away, across America. Indeed these are some of the questions that almost all of us who work or have worked in law enforcement ask ourselves over the course of one’s career.
In America today there are an estimated 800,000 law enforcement officers in some 18,000 states, county, city, and federal agencies. So my answer to John is lots of folks want to be cops. For 99% of the profession, it is a call to service. I’m not just speaking of my 33-year career in the Chicago Police Department. It was what I observed in my fellow brother and sisters over the years. That dedicated service costs countless lives and horrific injuries while serving and protecting their fellow man. Nothing is more despicable to good cops than a bad cop, whether it be corruption, brutality, or unprofessional behavior, it hurts all of us.
The last few years no doubt have been an exasperating time for many law enforcement officers, most especially in Chicago. This year alone 15 officers have come under gunfire with 3 wounded in the last 7 days, and 11 officers have committed suicide since 2018. Sometimes it’s not the visible wounds that are a cop’s enemy. It’s the day after day of dealing with the stress and strain of poverty, neglect, and violence that slowly takes its toll on the human psyche. Since the advent of body cameras in my opinion the number of times that cops get it right is probably 98% of the time. However, from time to time since cops come from the human race there will always be some failure, corruption, and unacceptable behavior. Good cops have to live with that and that is how it should be — a constant drive to get better.
At times I get to thinking that police reform is human reform — better cops mean better service to the community. Criticism of cops in America today is not a war on cops as some people have suggested we do get that. It is a demand that we do it better and with the best people possible. We understand scrutiny, we understand the criticism, we even sometimes understand the political motives of people who use our flaws to pass judgment on an entire profession.
The answer to John Kass’s question, “WHO WANTS TO BE A COP” is the same as it’s always been which is that inner drive to serve and protect by good, well-meaning, and decent people who are thrust into an arena that sometimes is overwhelming. If we think about our lives and why we do things, I think one of the best sayings that fit Cops and others who dedicate their lives to service is this simple saying lost to history.”ONE OF THE GREATEST EVILS IN THE WORLD IS NON INVOLVEMENT.” POLICE WORK MAKES DEMANDS BEYOND THE ORDINARY, CERTAIN COMMITMENTS HAVE TO BE ACCEPTED, ALONG WITH THE REWARDS.” WHAT IS NOT LOST TO HISTORY IS EDMUND BURKE’S WORDS– “HE THAT WRESTLES WITH US, STRENGTHENS OUR NERVES AND SHARPENS OUR SKILL. OUR ANTOGNIST IS OUR HELPER.”
Bob Angone Retired LT CPD
Filed under: Uncategorized