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Back to Bedlam: Cop Haters Make Up Your Mind

Warning: somewhat graphic photos below, may not be suitable for everyone.

1,000 as of last week. That's how many people have been shot in Chicago this year. Last week the number of people shot in Chicago this year passed 1,000. That's more than New York and LA combined, and the number is higher now. According to the Chicago Tribune, the day that number was reached 13 people were shot over the course of 14 hours. Among them was a 4 year old boy. Number 1,000 was a 16 year old in the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex. It isn't unusual for “Chi-raq” to have so many shooting victims, but usually the city doesn't hit this number until mid- to late- June. Homicides are also up, by 64% over this time last year. The go-to excuse for this violence, at least on the Left, has traditionally been guns. More recently, however, they're also blaming it on police inaction. Ironically the most vocal about it are people who just months ago were protesting racial profiling, police brutality and the frequency of the contacts made for “proactive policing.”


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Scene of a homicide in Chicago. Unknown photo credit.

The idea that LEOs are either too aggressive and “brutal” or too passive and “never around when you need one” is not a new one. There are still debates about 1 Police Plaza's tactics in the late 80s to mid-90s, despite a significant reduction in crime. Neither is the idea that a voluble anti-police trend, most strongly seen after the Ferguson and Baltimore riots and fueled by pandering  political candidates, has negatively impacted LE operations and morale — the number of contacts and arrests made has nosedived in many major cities across the country. Some secondary and tertiary order effects by this anti-LEO mentality are largely anecdotal but no less significant. Think, for instance, of officers attempting to dissuade potential recruits from joining the career field. Others, such as the spiking violent crime rate in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago and other cities are easily quantified. So, too, is the increased number of assault vs. accident related injuries sustained by LEOs on duty, a number that is more statistically significant than an increase in line of duty deaths.

City Journal's Heather McDonald is correct. The cop-haters need to make up their mind.

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A homicide in Chicago's South Austin neighborhood, 2015. (Chicago Tribune, E. Jason Wambsgans photo)

McDonald's piece about the ongoing violence in Chicago — and the role a largely anti-cop Left plays in it — was grimly apropos. Her article was published on the 19th. Chicago passed its bloody milestone the very next day. Call it the Ferguson-Baltimore effect or whatever you care to, policing has been affected over the last couple of years by a gestalt of causes. It's affecting everything from how patrol officers do their jobs day to day to (it would seem) the messages Circuit and District Courts send out local LE agencies.

“That officers would reduce their engagement under such a tsunami of hatred is both understandable and inevitable. Policing is political. If the press, the political elites, and media-amplified advocates are relentlessly sending the message that proactive policing is bigoted, the cops will eventually do less of it. This is not unprofessional conduct; it is how policing legitimacy is calibrated. The only puzzle is why the activists are so surprised and angered that officers are backing off; such a retreat is precisely what they have been demanding.” – Heather McDonald

It's not just gangbangers, hoodlums and deserving assholes getting shot. A “lack of sufficient gun control measures” is not at fault. Neither is making officers already wary of public crucifixion fill out a report for the ACLU of Illinois every time they make a contact going to correct matters.

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Deonta Howard, then 3, was shot in Cornell Square Park in Chicago's south side. He is representative of many innocent victims caught in the crossfire between criminals in the city.  Photo by Chris  Sweda.

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Scene of a homicide in Chicago, unknown photo credit.

Back to Bedlam

Ms. McDonald's op-ed does an excellent job of addressing some quantifiable results the city of Chicago has suffered, and thankfully also addresses the incorrect conflation of crime incidence to population ratio as a benchmark of police action.

Here's an excerpt:


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In response to the incessant accusations of racism and the heightened hostility in the streets that has followed the Michael Brown shooting, officers have pulled back from making investigatory stops and enforcing low-level offenses in many urban areas. As a result, violent crime in cities with large black populations has shot up—homicides in the largest 50 cities rose nearly 17 percent in 2015. And the Left is once again denouncing the police—this time for not doing enough policing. [Black Lives Matter activist Shaun] King now accuses police in Chicago of not “doing their job,” as a result of which “people are dying.” Stops in Chicago are down nearly 90 percent this year through the end of March, compared with the same period in 2015; shootings were up 78 percent and homicides up 62 percent through April 10. Over 100 people were shot in the first ten days of 2016. King scoffs at the suggestion that a new 70-question street-stop form imposed on the CPD by the ACLU is partly responsible for the drop-off in engagement. If American police “refuse to do their jobs [i.e., make stops] when more paperwork is required,” he retorts, “it’s symptomatic of an entirely broken system in need of an overhaul.” This is the same King who as recently as October fumed that “nothing happening in this country appears to be slowing [the police] down.”

If you're interested you can read the article in its entirety right here. Then let's have a realistic and pragmatic discussion about how we can fix an increasing crime rate and keep kids from getting shot — maybe while doing so we can discuss how deal with the unethical actions of a very few LEOs without poisoning an entire career field with accusations of systemic bigotry and corruption.

Chicago Shooting Map

You can find an interactive map tracking Chicago shootings here on the Chicago Tribune website. It appears to be updated frequently.

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A woman comforts a 21-year-old man shot multiple times in Chicago in 2014. Photo by Anthony Souffle.

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Officers respond to a shooting in Chicago. Unknown photo credit.

The Chicago Sun Times maintains a gallery to “mark every death [and] remember every victim.” You can put faces to the statistics here.

More imagery of Chicago violence, albeit from last year, here.


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