The Ferguson Effect Strikes the Chicago PD
In this the Task Force has engaged in a common subterfuge among those who turn a blind eye to the reality of crime, to wit, comparing the number of people shot or Tased (or arrested, or stopped and questioned, or what have you) to the overall population rather than to the pool of criminal offenders. As the Chicago Tribune’s map of shooting incidents demonstrates, the incidence of shootings across the city corresponds quite neatly with each neighborhood’s demographics. The uncomfortable truth is that in Chicago, as in any other American city you could name, those neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics see the highest levels of violent crime. One may argue why this is so, but not whether it is. If the police are asked to address this crime, officers will of necessity be deployed where it occurs and come into contact with those responsible for it. Some small percentage of those contacts will be acrimonious; some still smaller percentage will be violent.
In Nashville last month, a white police officer attempted to arrest a black man for assaulting a black woman, an effort that might have been applauded in many places. But this incident took place in a housing project, and as this video (warning: coarse language) makes clear, the prevailing sentiment among the many witnesses was clearly on the side of the alleged lawbreaker as they cheered his escape. Some in the crowd went so far as to attack the officer and assist in that escape. Taking race completely out of the discussion, what conclusions should a police officer – or anyone – draw about a place where such appalling behavior seems to be so common? Yes, this was Nashville, but cops in Chicago and many other cities know the same thing could happen to them in some neighborhoods.
But, as we’ve discussed previously here on PJ Media (here, here, and here) in Chicago, as in many other cities, officers are coming to the conclusion that the risks of these violent contacts are prohibitive and that a prudent regard for one’s livelihood demands a less zealous approach to combatting crime. No, the cops aren’t afraid of getting shot or stabbed or otherwise injured in an altercation, they’re afraid of becoming the next YouTube sensation when an arrest goes wrong and fails to unfold in a manner approved by cowardly department brass, unprincipled politicians, and ignorant “community leaders,” all of whom exhort the cops to go out in the streets and stop the madness, but to do so without hurting anyone.
It is a given that most major cities, even those in so-called red states like Texas, are governed by liberal Democrats. Police chiefs in these cities are selected based on their ability to espouse the doctrines favored by these leftist politicians, i.e., poverty causes crime, private ownership of guns should be outlawed, and all the rest. Thus at the top of nearly major police department in America is a chief whose political outlook is no different from that of the mayor. Whether it’s Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, Bill de Blasio in New York, Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles, all of them have selected police chiefs who are comfortable toeing the party line.
At the bottom of these police departments are the cops on the street, men and women who know from sad experience that the liberal nostrums advocated by their chiefs are unproductive at best and harmful at worst. In any police department a line can be drawn somewhere between the chief and the street cops that delineates where the break between these outlooks can be found. In a healthy police department, that break can be found at or near the top, as with some chiefs who can mollify his political masters while maintaining a realistic outlook on crime and thereby his credibility with his cops.