The Last Report

What do Baltimore, St. Louis and Chicago all have in common? First, all three have seen huge surges in crime in the last few years, with St. Louis and Baltimore vaulting to the murder capitals of the United States. And second, all three have now been the target of damning DOJ investigations:

The Chicago Police Department routinely violates civil rights, uses unnecessary force, discriminates against minority residents, and fails to hold officers accountable — creating a climate of distrust, violence, and fear that makes residents and cops unsafe. That’s according to a massive new report that the US Department of Justice released on Friday.

As part of the investigation for the report, the Justice Department reviewed thousands of pages of documents, conducted hundreds of interviews with officials and residents, and participated in dozens of ride-along observations with police over 13 months.

Federal investigators attributed the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) vast problems not to individual officers but to policies from the city and police department that regularly failed to adequately train officers and hold them accountable for wrongdoing — sending a message that bad behavior is tolerable.

This isn’t unexpected, of course. The attempt to cover-up the shooting of Laquan McDonald (and the subsequent revelation that Chicago cops were routinely destroying dash cams); the revelation of a black site where suspects were taken to be abused; the recent expose about how the CPD covered up for a cop who was routinely taking money from drug dealers for protection. But the scale of this is simply massive. First-hand reports of abuse and discrimination — many from cops themselves. A record of investigating only a tiny fraction of complaints, a culture of escalation of dangerous situations. And, making everything worse, a culture of denial and cover-up. Here is just one example:

I mentioned at the top that these three cities have all seen huge surges in violent crime. Balko (and many reseachers) don’t think this is a coincidence. When people don’t trust the cops, crimes become way harder to solve and prevent. And a good way to make people not trust cops is to hold cops accountable when they do bad stuff. The DOJ does not think (and neither do I) that Chicago is filled with bad cops. They lay the blame squarely on policies that fail to create accountability and even encourage this sort of thing.

Now you can contrast this to de Blasio “vile anti-cop rhetoric” and ending of stop-and-frisk, which has results in a gigantic surge in … well, actually crime has fallen in New York. To the point where the Daily News admitted they were wrong to opposed ending stop-and-frisk. (Mark this down. It may be the only time I ever say anything positive about de Blasio. Well, two things: he is, for the moment, not Hillary Clinton).

The good news, this should be the last we hear of this. Jeff Sessions, our pending AG, has indicated he will stop these investigations, end consent decrees and get the feds to stop bothering with this.

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  1. West Virginia Rebel

    There has been a decline of good cops leaving the force in these cities over the years. what you get left are the good cops trying to do their jobs and the bad cops who take advantage of the vacuum. Hopefully this can be reversed if the Trump administration helps bring good cops back.

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  2. AlexInCT

    My take is that police are incentivized by what they see the system, legal and otherwise, do and prioritize. In the military, for example, a good commander vs. a bad commander can result in disparate troop behavior. The same applies in policing. When you have rule of law and everyone expecting good behavior across the board, judges, government lawyers, and cops follow along. When your entire system is rigged & political, agendas take priority over the rule of law, and special interests use the law to attack their enemies while protecting their own, things come apart.

    This administration was horrible when it comes to the rule of law, starting from the DOJ on down. The law was not only applied inconsistently, but to favor a special interests on the left over others, and in some cases not at all (Clinton) or when it should never have been (the guy thrown in jail over a video that had nothing to do with the failures of Benghazi). There has not been an administration that has used the law to go after and punish their enemies as badly as this one has. Nixon wishes he could have asked for what the Obama administration did and got away with. Nobody should be surprised that when there is no consistency in the application of the law, misbehavior follows. And that it then percolates to all levels. While not all are affected by it, enough usually are to make things bad (as we have now).

    Couple all of that abuse of power and lawlessness with people in charge of the system that live by the axiom of dividing and conquering – pitting people into special interest groups and pitting them against each other in order to reap political power and benefits – and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Frankly I am surprised things are not much worse than they are after the last 8 years.

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