It is an accepted but lamented fact of life among police officers that in order to rise on the promotional ladder, one must endorse the political fashions currently in favor among the city’s politicians. And the higher one ascends on that ladder, the more convincingly one must do so. As a consequence, reflecting the governing principles of almost any city you can name, most police chiefs are liberals, or at least pretend to be with a passing level of feigned sincerity.
As a result of this, the upper levels of most police departments, most certainly those in large cities, become clogged with men and women who can recite leftist pieties as confidently as any MSNBC host, the better to curry favor with politicians whose sponsorship is essential to further promotion. All of these men and women believe themselves qualified to be the next police chief, but the one selected will have proved himself to be the most proficient panderer.
But this creates a problem within a police department, to wit, a division in the rank structure between those at or near the top who adopt the leftist nostrums of the politicians, and those at the bottom who must go out onto the streets each day and confront the very real problems engendered by those very same leftist nostrums.
There exists no more vivid example of this than the city of Chicago, where Hillary Clinton received 84 percent of the 2016 presidential vote, and where there hasn’t been a Republican mayor since 1931. Between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, 74 people were shot in the city,12 of them fatally. In one seven-hour span, from about midnight Saturday to about 7:00 a.m. Sunday, 41 people were shot, five of whom died.
These spasms of violence are sadly characteristic of Chicago, or at least parts of it. And equally as routine as the weekend violence are the Monday press conferences at which Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson put on their angry (or sad) faces and denounce the perpetrators and talk about how the mayhem is “unacceptable.” “What happened this weekend did not happen in every neighborhood in Chicago,” said Emanuel, “but it is unacceptable [that] it happened in any neighborhood in Chicago.”
A question for the mayor: If it really is unacceptable, why do you continue to accept it?
He’ll never answer that question, but the answer is that for him, facing re-election as he is, it’s politically untenable to take the steps necessary to stop it, steps which are well known and have been practiced in other cities, albeit by people with more courage than Rahm Emanuel and the people he allows to run his police department.
To his credit, in his press conference Emanuel (very lightly) touched on the problem at the root of the violence: packs of feral young men who from birth were never given a lesson in morality. “If you say enough is enough,” said the mayor, “you must come forward as a neighborhood where a moral center of gravity holds. . . . [There are] too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable, what is condoned and what is condemned.”
But If you were somehow to identify and arrest every single one of the shooters involved in the weekend violence, you would no doubt discover that nearly all of them came from homes with absent fathers, and that nearly all of them had been previously arrested for violent crime. (They won’t come close to arresting all of the shooters, or even a quarter of them; the website Heyjackass.com reports Chicago P.D.’s murder clearance rate for 2018 so far is 14.6 percent.)
As Rahm Emanuel knows, to take a stand against hit-and-run fatherhood is to cast blame on a significant portion of the Chicago electorate. What’s more, to do so would also cast blame on the leftist policies that gave rise to the welfare state and to which he owes his political career. The vast government apparatus that over the years has come to make fathers unnecessary, at least in a financial sense, lies at the very heart of Democratic politics. Single mothers may do their best, but the research is consistent and irrefutable: boys raised without fathers are far more likely to become involved in crime.
And if Rahm Emanuel cannot bring himself to address the long-term source of Chicago’s troubles, perhaps he can do something about the short-term ones. If the city is plagued with a cohort of dangerous young men, what’s to be done about them? As noted above, the short-term solution is well known but politically fraught: You encourage your police officers to identify and arrest the lawbreakers, and you encourage your prosecutors to bring appropriate charges and seek appropriate sentences. To those who are troubled by the specter of “mass incarceration,” a question: Given the blood running in the gutters of Chicago’s streets last weekend (and most weekends, especially in summer), are there too many people in jail or too few?
But to address this crime wave requires a police force that is fully staffed, suitably equipped, and well led, none of which describes the Chicago Police Department in its current state. Incredibly, Rahm Emanuel acquiesced to allowing the ACLU and the socialist front group Black Lives Matter to participate in the crafting of a consent decree soon to take effect in Chicago, a measure that will divert vast amounts of police manpower and resources from fighting crime to complying with the minutia the decree will demand. The ACLU was already successful in foisting on Chicago’s cops the “Investigative Stop Report,” the two-page form completed on every person detained, however briefly, in the course of a cop’s work day. If your goal is less police work, just add to the paperwork requirement and soon you’ll get what you want. The result of all this in Chicago is clear: the city’s thugs are less fearful of the consequences for their predations than are the police for the consequences of trying to oppose them. If the cops do what must be done, it will result in more violent confrontations between them and the lawbreakers, including more officer-involved shootings, even the most plainly justifiable of which brings protests and accusations of racism. This is how you get 74 people shot in one weekend.
What’s more, Chicago has hundreds of police openings, and retirements and resignations currently outpace hiring. Much of the police technology is out of date and police stations and detective bureaus have been shuttered. Most important, Superintendent Eddie Johnson is simply not up to the task of leading the department through its current crisis, and too many in his command staff are equally as incompetent. What Chicago needs is a proven leader, perhaps someone from outside the department, if any such would dare seek the job. Witness what William Bratton accomplished in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, where he showed that cops who are equipped, trained, and motivated to fight crime while honoring the Constitution can solve problems once thought to be intractable.
Rahm Emanuel will never do what needs to be done to repair what ails Chicago. He is up for re-election next year. How will the voters choose?