The appointment of J.P. “Jody” Weis

In three parts. 1. Chicago has a long history of appointments to important jobs either being filled with politics, or race and politics. Daley’s recent selection of J.P. Weis as his candidate to fill the position of Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is filled with race, politics, and more. For those believing that the choice of an outsider to fill the job is Daley’s way of bowing to the pressures seeking reform, you need to think again. The major reason Daley went with an outsider is that the two ongoing federal investigations could very well snag any of the possible internal candidates Daley could possibly appoint. I guess Daley did not want to see his latest appointment led off in handcuffs or worse, flipping and turning state’s evidence and helping the federal authorities investigate the department and the Daley administration.

Weis is not remotely an answer to the problems plaguing the CPD. The problems are deeply entrenched in the culture of the Department. Weis will not have much wiggle room rewriting Departmental guidelines because his entire command staff grew up in and flourished with the current set of general orders. Even if the general orders are rewritten there is little reason to believe the 13,000-member strong force would change the daily procedures because of rewritten general orders. On the day that Superintendent Terry Hilliard retired, he circulated a rewritten general order restructuring the process by which the CPD could hold suspects past 48 hours as a result of a warrantless arrest. In the Dunn class action lawsuit stemming from this practice, the judge that certified the three classes certified the third class that contained a complainant class that had a unique definition.

They were bound by a time frame that proved that just what effects rewritten policies have on the daily activities of the CPD. The third class were from the day Hilliard circulated the order until the day the class was certified, almost two years later I believe, because the CPD had not stopped the practice despite the rewritten general order. 2. Many leaders in the African American community as well as the Latino community are unhappy about the fact that Weis is white and that other internal minority candidates were bypassed. First off, the top level of management of the CPD are all under suspicion and could become ensnarled in the ongoing federal investigations. Secondly, those who have found their way to the hierarchy of the CPD must have done so through their silence or participation in abuse or corruption. Abuse and corruption despite all the media reports is an equal opportunity process.

This means that Dana Starks might very well not be without his skeletons and a closer examination might certainly prove it. If Chicagoans are to move beyond the base level discussions about the abusive criminal justice system we need to get over the fact that white agents only perpetrate abuse. This may have been true 50 years ago, maybe even 25 years ago, but this is not the reality in today’s Chicago. This does not mean to say that the abuse is evenly distributed through all communities of Chicago; it isn’t even close to that. Abuse occurs in select communities against select people for the most part. The special operations section (SOS) and Jon Burge much earlier targeted a specific demographic, for Burge it was Black males and for SOS it was Black and Latino males. The idea that having a minority as the Superintendent is going to make the practices of the CPD is just nonsense. Abuse continued unabated during Stark’s tenure and would have continued if he were made Superintendent permanently.

The idea that a 13,000 member strong police force takes on the traits of the Superintendent rather than the cultural characteristics that have been in place for 100 years is foolish. In fact, one could say that the argument for a minority as the Superintendent is a red herring. Daley could have reincarnated O. W. Wilson and appointed him once again to position of Superintendent and I believe it would have made little difference to the practices of the CPD. Community members seeking reform must keep their focus on the real issue? reforming the practices of the CPD. Regardless of the race or gender of the Superintendent, the CPD will continue to abuse short massive and unprecedented changes in the cultural and disciplinary processes of the CPD. Currently it is much easier to get fired from the Department for living outside the boundaries of the city than it is for abusing or shooting a civilian.

Until this one fact is changed little thought should really be focused on the boss of the man that just beat little John down on the corner. 3. Who is this guy? Does anyone really know? I mean, at a time when Daley has taken so many faux steps to increase transparency he picks a candidate to fill the position of Superintendent of the CPD with absolutely no community input or public airing of his credentials. Wow, talk about transparent! Daley’s commitment to transparency is what is transparent, not the process. I really do not think anyone is in a position to say whether or not Weis is a good pick or not, because we know almost nothing about him. I would really like to know what his commitment to accountability is. Also, was he hired with a plan to force upon the CPD a framework for creating accountability where none exists, or is he going to use the Daley framework? We all know that one. That is the framework that guarantees Daley still cannot find out who hired Angelo Torres to the position of head of the Hired Truck Program for the city four years after he was busted for corruption. I have many more questions

I would like to ask both Weis and Daley about this appointment. I think most of mine have already been stated by Steve Rhodes from the Beachwood Reporter. It is clear that without any experience running even a four-man police force, he will have a significant learning curve. Also Weis is coming into Chicago at a time of incredible distrust between the CPD and minority community members. It would be nice to think that Weis has had experiences curing all that ills the CPD; however, the fact is that Weis has had as much experience as I have running any police department, none. Who will Weis trust within his command staff considering they are all possible targets for the feds? Who would be willing to force reforms down the throat of the officers? The answers are not easily constructed because Weis is way over his head. He is unaware that the Chicago Police Board that Daley bypassed in his love for process and democracy had a very hard time seeking candidates because police professionals nationwide knew what they were getting themselves into coming here and getting into bed with Daley. It seems Weis may not be as astute as the other more qualified candidates that were not interested in the job.

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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