Daley, Devine and the Propaganda of Reform and Responsibility.

The last 12months have seen remarkable activity in the area of reform in the criminal justice system in Chicago.  The only problem, the moves are once again directed to make you think reform is taking place rather then instituting true reform.  Devine and Daley have taken several public steps to instituting faux reform that will eventually lead to additional rouge units abusing the residents of communities that have the least resources to fight back. On December 18th the Mayor dictated a memo to his personal shrill from the Sun-Times Fran Spielman talking about how the new Police Superintendent, Jody Weis, “will have to take responsibility.”

It seems odd that this statement came from a man whose entire careers as the Cook County State’s Attorney and as Mayor of Chicago have been marred with his lack of taking responsibility.  In the early 1980s when Daley received a letter forwarded to him by the Chicago Police Superintendent alleging torture of suspect in the murder of a Chicago Police Officer, Daley passed the letter to his subordinate, Dick Devine, without every following-up on the manner.  As a result his office, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, never lived up to the role as a check and balance on the illicit use of police power. In his memo Daley talks about how it is time that the hierarchy of the police department live up to their expectations.  Why is it now with an outsider coming in to run the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is it time for the brass to have some skin in the game?  Why didn’t they have to take responsibility for the following?

1.    Jon Burge & 20 years of torture

2.    The Austin Seven

3.    Joseph Miedzianowski & the Gang Crimes Unit

4.    The Special Operations Section – Kidnapping and Robbery

All of these scandals occurred on the watch of Mayor Daley.  Yet, during his 19th year in office Daley thinks it is time for the hierarchy of the police to take responsibility for what their officers do on a daily basis.  The emperor has no clothes, and hasn’t for many years, and nobody thinks anything is wrong.  Is Daley serious about reform, or is he just serious about getting the public to believe he is serious, once again, about reform?  Propaganda is only used when those in power want those they have power over to believe something that is not true. I believe that the line “Daley is all about police reform” after 19 years as mayor and 8 as Cook County State’s Attorney during which time he did nothing after repeated and repeated scandals sounds a lot like a piece of propaganda.

The truth is that Daley is only looking to hand the cop of the street and will never go after those most responsible for police abuse. As citizens we should only blame those in positions of power for failing to create a system of accountability within the Chicago Police Department.  Street cops do not create the system they work in, they just work in it.  A system must be created that removes decision making responsibility from the individual officer and makes all reporting of misconduct mandatory with serious repercussions for failing to report abuse or corruption.  Currently the decision to report fellow officers for misconduct rests on the shoulders of street cops.  The repercussions for reporting the abuse far outweigh the repercussions for not reporting the abuse.  This must be reversed immediately.

Very few individuals are going to sacrifice their careers to report abuse when if they do nothing their careers are safe.  If the system held that failure to report would cost the officer his or her job and pention then the decision because good cops would not risk their careers or pensions for abuse from other officers.  If they decided not report the abuse because of the blue wall of silence, then do not deserve to keep the job or pension. A system like the one I just described is in the best interest of both citizens of Chicago and the many good officers on the streets of Chicago.  The problem, the Mayor and his patronage army of corrupt high ranking officers flourished under the current system and see no benefit for changing that system.

The reason Daley sought an outsider to run the Chicago Police Department is that nay of the current high ranking officers could have been and may still be caught up in the current federal investigations.  Officers with integrity and courage do not have careers that are advanced to the highest ranks of the Chicago Police Department.  Officers that have careers of corruption and abuse make it to Superintendent like the recently deposed Phil Cline.  Sources have told CJP that he had a role in protecting both Finnigan and Miedzianowski during his time of corruption and abuse in the Chicago Police Department.

Until the Chicago Police creates a system that removes decision making from the individual officer and puts it on the hierarchy there will never be accountability in the Chicago Police Department. ——— Several months ago Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine announced he would not be seeking reelection once his current term ends.   Obviously, this would be the perfect time to institute faux reform if you did not want to be around when the fallout for your lack of oversight hit the fan.  Devine is creating a new unit that will be reviewing police shootings and allegations of excessive force.  Wow, it only took 12-years as Cook County State’s Attorney for Devine to figure out he may need a unit like this.  No doubt he is a quick study. One of the responsibilities of this new unit is to keep up to date on the litigation resulting from police abuse.  The unit is to review the proceedings to discover any evidence revealed as a result of the litigation.

One major problem with this issue as stated by Devine is that much of the civil litigation stems from police abuse that included a criminal prosecution.  If this new unit is to review this litigation is it only going to look at cases where there was no criminal prosecution?  If the officer lied during the criminal prosecution, then there could be ramifications for the prosecutor that elicited the perjurious testimony.  I cannot believe that Devine would set up a unit to investigate his own prosecutors. Through all the scandals that have taken place in the Chicago Police Department only once in my memory has there been a Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney that has been held accountable.  That Assistant State’s Attorney, Larry Hyman, never was prosecuted and never even lost his law license.  Just through the Joseph Miedzianowski scandal there exists a very good chance that an Assistant State’s Attorney either knowingly elicited testimony he or she knew was not a truthful reflection of reality.

Has Devine ever suggested we review the hundreds of cases that Miedzianowski or the guys from the Special Operations Section were involved in? Why would they? They got their convictions; the individual’s possible actual innocence has little to do with the matter. Obviously, so does the fact that for over a decade Miedzianowski was running wild on the streets of Chicago testifying in criminal cases long after the authorities in Chicago believed him to be a liar worthy of being fired from the Chicago Police Department.  Yet, he was not fired and the prosecutors in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office continued to rely on this liar’s testimony.  We can only wonder how many innocent people are rotting away in Illinois State Penitentiaries because of perjured testimony elicited by Assistant Cook County State’s Attorneys’ from Joseph Miedzianowski.

During the time that Governor George Ryan’s Commission on Capital Punishment was meeting about ways to reform the death penalty in Illinois in the late 1990s the Illinois Supreme Court adopted a little talked about rule.  The rule states that prosecutors are to seek justice not just convictions.  This should have been front-page news.  The fact that the Illinois Supreme Court needed to codify such a rule clearly demonstrates that there is something wrong in the system.  The media did not seem to care; neither did any of the elected county prosecutors.

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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