“You know who did it”

Excuse me Mr. Mayor, but you know who did it also, but you’re not telling either. The title of this blog is a quote from Mr. Daley on Wednesday, November 8, 2007.  Daley was in the Back of the Yards (BOY) neighborhood holding a photo op not at all cleverly disguised as a press conference.  During the photo op Daley called out local residents for failing to identify the individual who is responsible for the shooting death of a pregnant mother on Halloween night.

The full quote is “You know who did it.  Don’t be blaming the police.  Look in the mirror and say, I can do better,” (Chicago Tribune, Nov. 8, 2007).  I know one resident of Chicago that is interested in accountability and transparency in the criminal justice system that could say the same thing about you Mr. Mayor.   If there was transparency in the system we would know how many times over the last 5 or 6 years the Special Operations Section of the Chicago Police Department has abused residents in this community.

To understand the lack of cooperation by residents of the BOY neighborhood one must look at how the system has treated the residents first.  Once we get an understanding of the experiences of the residents then we can start to access blame.  Our Mayor is coming into a situation with absolutely no understanding of what this neighborhood has had to endure at the hand of police during his 18 years in office.  One reason he doesn’t have a broader perspective is that responsibility for the abuse lies partially at Daley’s feet.  He simply doesn’t care about the abuse as long as the crime figures reported by the Chicago Police Department continue to move in the direction he wants them to move in.

During Daley’s tenure as mayor of Chicago, there have been numerous scandals within the Chicago Police Department.  At no time has Daley taken serious and affective steps to include community input into how police oversight should be completed.  Neither has Daley taken steps to increase public access to information that would assist them in regulating police abuse in their community.  It might be correct to say that police abuse has worsened over Daley’s 18-year tenure as Mayor.

Currently there are at least two separate federal investigations ongoing with the Chicago Police Department or its agents as the targets.  One investigation is strictly looking at how the Internal Affairs Unit failed to catch members of the Special Operations Section.  According to federal investigators, the Internal Affairs Unit of the Chicago Police Department had known for four years that the Special Operations Section was pulling off kidnappings and robberies and did nothing to stop them.

Citizens of Chicago were powerless to inhibit the actions of the Special Operations Section because police officials and the Mayor himself refused to release information. The Mayor and police officials had within their power the ability to release internal information about the actions of the Special Operations Section that could have prevented further victimization of the community.  They did not because in the words of our fearless Mayor, “They’re allegations,” (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 24, 2007).  This is what our Mayor said when 28 of the 50 alderman of Chicago went to court to force open a list detailing the number of complaints against officers in a 5 year period.

One of the main reasons Daley does not want this list publicized now is that it will detail definitively how incompetent the accountability systems within the Chicago Police Department are.  This he fears will trace back to him because the buck stops at his office.  Unfortunately, for all Chicago residents the Mayor and the City will spend whatever it takes to make sure that this information is not disclosed.  By way of covering up this in abuse Daley will be further increasing the level of victimization by abusive officers in communities throughout Chicago.

Recently police officials took steps to close down the Special Operations Section; however, most of those officers were just folded into another unit, the Targeted Response Unit (TRU).  Once again community residents are left guessing if officers who have abused in the past are still free to abuse in the future.  Police officials have refused to detail the names of officers in the Special Operation Section and have also refused to identify what neighborhoods those officers have been reassigned to.  I guess community residents will be forced to wait until members of the Chicago Police Department are kidnapping them and robbing their homes before they will know if members of the Special Operations Section have been reassigned to their community.

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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