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The [Tuesday] Papers

Grinding my gears:

The media (and others) talk about police unions as if they are an entity in and of themselves, apart from actual police officers, when in fact police union leadership are elected by the rank-and-file. Police union leadership, almost universally repugnant across America, reflect the views of the majority of police officers. Let that sink in.


And it's not as if the John Catanzaras of the world won narrow victories over reformers, or even moderates. The union president losers are only slightly less crazy than the winners.


And yet, these horrid police union contracts didn't write themselves - they were agreed to in city after city by mayors and city councils.

Something I'd like to see is a review of each Chicago police union contract to see which mayors agreed to which provisions. Assignment Desk, activate!


Of course, that doesn't mean change is impossible. In fact, it seems change is afoot. But in all the reporting over the years about police union contracts and accountability systems, it seems like the two biggest players - the officers themselves and the elected officials who enable them - get left out of the discussion in favor of passive abstracts.

(This isn't just a problem at the local level; several state legislatures have added to the problem with labor law provisions and police officer "bills of rights" that have only worsened the problem.)


Finally, the media likes to pretend it isn't a part of the institutional ecosystem when it (almost always belatedly) sees the light on an issue once it has become trendy to do so.

To wit:

I've also wondered in this space before if the now-required Burge curriculum in Chicago Public Schools includes the media's failure to believe Burge's victims - and/or care enough to dig into their claims - and their monumental failure to follow-up John Conroy's deeply impressive reporting for the Reader.

The media likes to crow about its impact - and import to democracy - when they do something good, but they pretend they don't exist (or have any impact at all) when it comes to widespread institutional failures they are equally a part of.


And, as many have now come to realize, police reform has been a widespread institutional failure - including by the media.

What I've come to learn in recent years, sadly, is that by and large the local media doesn't even understand how the multi-layered police accountability system works in Chicago.

Beyond that, nobody seems to question why we even need such a Rube Goldbergesque system built around our cops to make sure they behave, i.e., don't needlessly kill Black people.

For some reason, Internal Affairs (IAD) was not enough; we needed the Office of Professional Standards (OPS). And when OPS failed, we got the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). And when IPRA failed, we got the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). And now that COPA has failed, we're going to get either the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) or the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).

Cops are so bad at their jobs, and so protected by the union contracts they've been able to negotiate, that the city for decades has had to do massive bureaucratic gymnastics to create a system that, seemingly by design, fails to hold them to account. And guess what? Chicago actually might have the best accountability system, relatively speaking, in the nation!


Here's a more precise rendering of the long, failed history of police reform in Chicago, from a 2013 UIC report and enhanced by the Beachwood staff:

History of CPD oversight - each a reaction to scandal.

1960: Police Board created.

Tribune, March 5, 1960: "Council Approves New Police Board; Wilson Is Inducted: 4 'Urgent' Needs Of Department Described Wilson Tells New Board Of 4 'Urgent' Police Needs."

1966: Mayor creates Citizens Committee.

Tribune, July 26, 1966: "Daley Appoints 23 To Study Police Department."

1967: Superintendent reorganizes Internal Investigations Division.

Tribune, November 19, 1967: "Born in '60, I. I. D. Keeps Eye on City Policemen: Its Office Acts On Thousands Of Complaints."

1970: Internal Affairs Division created.

Tribune, September 23, 1970: "POLICE FORCE SHAKEUP PUTS 40 IN NEW JOBS: 2d Big Move Following Recent Survey."

1972: City Commission on Human Relations given role.

Tribune, May 13, 1972: "Won't Change Police System, Conlisk Insists: CHICAGO'S TROUBLED POLICE."

1973: Knoohuizen Report.

1974: Office of Professional Standards created.

Tribune, February 13, 1974: "Exclusive Interview: IAD Failed To End corruption: [Chief]."

2007: Independent Police Review Authority created.

Sun-Times, November 1, 2007: "Key To Police Watchdog's New Name: 'Independent.'"

[Headlines by The Beachwood Value-Added Affairs Desk]

Reform is not working! (And I'm not sure it was ever meant to work, other than to assauge the public just enough to get by.)


Since then, of course, we've had the Police Accountability Task Force, a Justice Department investigation and subsequent federal consent decree, and the replacement of IPRA with COPA, which will soon be replaced with GAPA or CPAC.


And lookee here: Lightfoot Announces Committee To Review Chicago Police Use-Of-Force Policies.

Amid: Chicago Misses Two Dozen Deadlines In Police Reform Plan.


And our police chiefs? I'll steal this review from myself in December 2019:

Eddie Johnson: Fired for lying to mayor.

John Escalante (interim): Approved bogus Laquan McDonald reports.

Garry McCarthy: Took Rahm's fall for Laquan McDonald; should've been fired much sooner.

Jody Weis: Mayor Richard M. Daley conducted his own search alongside the police board to find a 22-year FBI agent wholly unable to effectively lead the department.

Phil Cline: Resigned amidst a scandal in his special operations unit (including one officer hiring a hit man to kill another) and several instances of highly publicized police brutality.

Terry Hillard: Resigned after a forgettable five years and came back briefly as interim between Weis and McCarthy. Tried to lead reform efforts in New Orleans, creating the appropriate backlash, and cashed in with a private security firm.

Matt Rodriguez: Forced to resign because of his friendship with a convicted felon/murder suspect.

LeRoy Martin: Once suggested weakening the Constitution; named as a Jon Burge enabler.

Fred Rice Jr.: The city's first African-American police chief resigned once his pension maxed out.

Richard Brzeczek: Special prosecutors in 2006 found that Brzeczek was "guilty of 'dereliction of duty' and did not act in good faith in an investigation into claims of torture involving Burge."

I didn't go further back then that, but I'm sure the pattern is the same.


I'd be remiss if I didn't note that the New York Times just wrote this in an article this week about police chiefs' lack of job security:

Garry McCarthy was respected in law enforcement circles for ushering in an era of modernization and experimentation as superintendent of the troubled Chicago Police Department. He was fired in 2015 by the mayor at the time, Rahm Emanuel, over his handling of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Though Mr. McCarthy had viewed video of the shooting days after the incident, it took more than a year and a court order for the video to be publicly released.

Mr. McCarthy has said he removed the officer who killed Mr. McDonald from the streets immediately but did not have the power to fire him.

I'll take this from the bottom up.

1. McCarthy did not have the power to fire Jason Van Dyke; that power rested with the Police Board. That is a fact, not something that needs to be attributed to him. It's also besides the point, as McCarthy let stand false reports of the incident; lied in media interviews about the case; and, in fact, thought the video should not have been released until the case was over.

2. The Times makes it seem like Rahm fired McCarthy for not releasing the video, when it was Rahm who buried the video, put forth through the city council a rushed settlement with the family in which his law department was not forthcoming about the incident, and fought the release of the video.

3. I'm not sure if McCarthy was respected in law enforcement circles, but those are the very circles that have brought us to where we are; I don't get why that should be a positive credential. Beyond that, the folks in Newark, New Jersey, where McCarthy worked as chief before Chicago, were not exactly enamored of him.


And our current police chief? He oversaw fudging the crime stats in Dallas and "retired" ahead of possibly getting fired. The Chicago media has basically ignored his real record there.


Now is the time more than ever for a total rethink of everything, and that includes not only how to best shape a public safety department but how to best shape media coverage to better reflect reality and eliminate false assumptions and biases that have determined coverage for decades, if not for as long as we've had police officers.


P.S.: A failed history of police reform is a failed history of policing. Policing is what's not working, and reform hasn't fixed it.



How to safely/legally grill on an apartment balcony from r/chicago



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It's a new week and I've got a new Small Chicago Building to add to my series! I super love this piece and building. It's got Art Deco accents and a nice mix of older and newer architectural elements. This building was located in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood, and home to the "International Buddhism Friendship Association." I say "was" because this building no longer exists as it was recently torn down and a new building set to replace it. Also, I stream the painting of these live on twitch at: give it a follow for when I go live and come hang out! Prints & More: ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ #Chicago #city #chitecture #art #chicagoart #painting #watercolor #chitown #wu_chicago #flippinchi #likechicago #architecture #chitown #building #chinatown #artfeature #artfeaturehelp #watercolorpainting #supportartists #redbubbleartists #watercolor_daily #watercolorart #watercolor_guide #twitchart #twitchartist

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