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The [Friday] Papers

So much for "cops on the dots."

As reported in the Tribune today, the Chicago Police Department's Special Operations Section - created as the centerpiece of the mayor's strategy to fight an embarrassingly high murder rate - is a disaster.

Seven SOS officers have already been charged with false arrests, robbing and kidnapping in what is described by the Tribune today as a "widening state and federal probe."

For more than a year insiders have buzzed about a unit drenched in massive scandal.

On Wednesday, SOS officer Jerome Finnigan was charged in a murder-for-hire scheme whose intended target was a former SOS officer cooperating in the probe.

And then today, this:

"The arrest report filed by two Chicago police officers claimed they searched Raymundo Martinez outside a Southwest Side bar because he threw a bottle of Corona down on the sidewalk when he saw them coming," the Tribune reports.

"The officers, members of the special operations section, saw a plastic bag that turned out to contain cocaine poking from his sleeve and arrested him, their report states.

"But cameras on the bar's ceiling and outside caught a very different scene that night in 2004 at Caballo's, 3748 W. 63rd St. Instead of two officers approaching a man drinking on a public street, the video shows more than two dozen police from the SOS unit raiding the bar and searching everyone, and arresting Martinez inside the bar.

"The bartender said an officer who appeared to be in charge said, 'This is just routine. We're going to check everybody.'

"The video contradicts the arresting officer's version of what happened that night, but it also raises constitutional issues about whether officers improperly searched dozens of people. The video also adds to a list of questions about SOS officers' conduct, which is the focus of state and federal investigations."

This is not good.

Of course, it shouldn't surprise anyone. History teaches us that elite police squads such as SOS tend to fill up with unrestrained cowboys who make The Shield look like child's play.

Roving bands of aggressive cops swarming "hot spots" is never a good substitute for the fundamentals of policing: beat systems that make sense, unlike the unformed system in place now that the mayor refuses to change, and true community policing, unlike the fake version that the city barely pretends to even employ anymore.

SOS wasn't exactly popular inside the department either. "Some rank-and-file officers resent specialized units such as SOS, claiming it takes clout and connections to win a spot on them," the Tribune reports. "Many officers joke that SOS stands for 'sons of sergeants.'"

It's the mayor's police department, just like it's the mayor's CTA. I guess he's too busy trying to dig up Grant Park to notice.

Sons of Sergeants
"Nobody in Mayor Richard Daley's administration can be trusted to keep city hiring free from politics except the inspector general, a court appointed official has concluded," the Tribune reports.

That's the inspector general the mayor is trying to undermine.

"Noelle Brennan cited the city's 'history of noncompliance,' a series of violations and fears that only Inspector General David Hoffman is independent enough to guarantee compliance," the Sun-Times reports.

"Brennan cited examples, including the case of a high-ranking employee who dared to report a violation to the monitor and was punished.

"Individuals in the mayor's office retaliated against the employee by attempting to 'exclude her from meetings . . . have her stripped of certain duties and attempting to isolate her from the rest of her working group,' the report said. The only explanation for the treatment was that the employee 'could not be trusted.''

"Several other examples were cited.

"'Even after the appointment of the monitor, the city continued to violate the Shakman decree by appointing individuals into 'exempt' positions that simply did not exist,' the monitor wrote."

"'To 'correct' this problem, a former deputy chief of staff violated the decree further by moving open Shakman-exempt slots from one department to another, an action prohibited' by court order."

A deputy chief of staff. To the mayor.


Daley responded by accusing Brennan of racism and not liking children.

Child's Play
"The mayor was asked how the [Chicago Children's Museum] was asked how the project could survive a court test after four Supreme Court rulings have affirmed legal covenants restricting lakefront construction," the Sun-Times reports.

"It is free and open," the mayor said. "That's why we have Daley Bicentennial Park, which is a building . . . That's why we have the Frank Gehry. That's why we have museums. That's why you have Navy Pier."

The mayor was apparently not asked what the hell he was talking about and if his gibberish was intended to evade the question or if he had merely forgotten to take his medication that morning.

The Outfit Fits
What makes the Chicago Outfit different from most street gangs and other organized criminal organizations that we go after is that one hundred years or so of building up connections among politicians and cops and judges and businessmen," first deputy U.S. attorney Gary Shapiro tells John Kass.

Connect the dots. Including the ones the cops are on.

Wow, someone needs to brighten the mood around here. Got anything for me Rick?


ITEM: Blackhawks Owner Bill Wirtz dies
CHICAGO, Illinois - The not-so-beloved owner of the Chicago Blackawks died this week in Chicago. Bill Wirtz was 77 years old."

* He was preceded in death by the Blackhawks, who died about ten years ago.

* His home wake will not be televised.

Ba dum-bum.

The Beachwood Tip Line: At your service.


Posted on September 28, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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