Miedzianowski and the history of no history

With the break up of the Special Operations Section (SOS) of the Chicago Police Department it seems like a good time for us to take a step back and review a piece of history. Corruption does  not occur in a vacuum, absent a culture that either inhibits or nourishes the actions. The Chicago Police Department has a long history of corruption scandals and an equally long history of promises from officials that this shall never happen again. Starting with Chicago Police Superintendent O.W. Wilson in 1960 and ending in 1974 with the creation of the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) under Superintendent James Rockford’s tenure, the office that handles citizen complaints against officers, was renamed and reorganized four times in fourteen years, (The Question of Police Discipline in Chicago: An analysis of the Proposed Office of Professional Standards, Report of the Chicago Law Enforcement Study Group, 1974, p. 23).

The four changes that resulted with the creation of OPS were a response to less violent actions by police officers against citizens. O.W. Wilson was brought in as a response to the “Summerdale” scandal during which time officers from the Chicago Police were involved in a burglary ring. While this is not a good use of police time, it pales in comparison to the current scandals that include the charges of assault, robbery, kidnapping and murder for hire, among other charges. Why this history continues to repeat itself is that community members lack the information they need to allow them to take the needed steps to stop it from repeating. Today’s example is in regard to a corrupt Chicago cop, Joseph Miedzianowski. Few knew that he had a history of his abusive actions dating back to 1984. His actions were not just abusive they also were very similar to the actions he was eventually imprisoned for. What follows I have pulled verbatim from the charges filed against Miedzianowski and his partner John Galligan back in 1984. While the system sought Miedzianowski’s dismissal police officials only suspended him. You can read for yourself the charges and make up your own mind as to whether or not the Chicago Police should have fired Miedzianowski before we was able to this or this.

  • Miedzianowski, while on duty, brought discredit to the Department by forcing his way into Mr. Andri Khoshaba’s apartment and punching him in the face and chest, placed a firearm against Mr. Khoshaba’s head and striking Mr. Khoshaba with a firearm without justification.*
  • In that on 29 June 1984, at approximately 1050 hours 2914 West North Avenue, Police Officer Joseph Miedzianowski, while duty, brought discredit to the Department by throwing Reverend Jorge Morales to the ground, twisting Reverend Morales arms, pushing Reverend Jorge Morrales against a squad car, pushing Reverend Jorge Morales inside the squad car and intentionally pulling Reverend Jorge Morales by his hair without justification.*
  • In that on 6 September 1983, at the Office of Professional Standards, at or about 1059 hours, Police officer Joseph Miedzianowski did give false information to an investigator of the office of Professional Standards relative to the incident of 27 July 1983. *

* Chicago Police Department Personnel Order No. 84-356, August 6, 1984

How much information are citizens that reside in communities for which Miedzianowski worked after these charges were filed against him entitled to?
Are citizens to put their faith in the accountability systems within the criminal justice agencies to weed out the bad officers or policies?

 It is clear in the Miedzianowski example that these departments did not act appropriately. Are the privacy interests of rouge cops to supercede the interests of community members to have the knowledge they need to protect their communities from abuses of the system? Miedzianowski’s tenure on the police force post 1984 is due to the fact that the accountability mechanisms within the Chicago Police Department favored an abusive officer over a threat he posed to the communities he would serve in. Because of the lack of access to information we will never truly know the number of similar complaints filed against Miedzianowski during his tenure on the police force.

Currently there is an ongoing battle in Federal Court to protect a list of Chicago Police Officers that have been accused of similar actions to what Miedzianowski was accused of back in 1984. Mayor Daley is fighting in Federal Court to keep the list secret saying that it is unfair to publish the list because it only contains accusations against officers. To follow the Mayor’s line community members would have to believe that the OPS investigated the accusations appropriately. Absent this faith in the accountability mechanisms within the system the information must be made public.

Community members need to be armed with the tools to protect themselves from abuses from the system, including abusive and corrupt police officers. Information is the only tool in the arsenal that has the possibility of protecting communities from rouge officers or bad policing.

  • When the gang crimes unit of the Chicago Police Department was discovered rotten to the core they shut the unit down. (Miedzianowski was the cause)
  • The members of that unit were then folded into the SOS.
  • Now that SOS is been discovered rotten to the core they are shutting down that unit.
  • The members of SOS are now being folded into the Targeted Response Unit (TRU).
  • Now that TRU has been discovered rotten to the core they are shutting down the unit.

OK, your right, the last bullet has yet to happen; but I think that the seeds have already been planted.

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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