Below is video from a report that aired on Channel 7 news on Friday April 23rd. It contains video taken by a citizen of two officers in separate cars sleeping while their partners are in Seven Eleven drinking coffee and talking. For those that are not able to recognize where the officers are in the city they are at the corner of Foster & Ravenswood – in the Ravenswood Neighborhood – in the 20th District- on the north side of the city. Maybe this will add fuel to the fire about the need for beat realignment in the city. I doubt that many of the officers in Englewood, Woodlawn, or North Lawndale have the time to sleep while working overnights.
This is a little hidden gem about policing in Chicago. A friend of mine many years ago would tell the stories about how on his first day his field training officer showed him the good places to sleep. He of course was lucky enough to get sent to a north side district right out of the academy that had less violence than the Ravenswood Neighborhood.
You all remember the promises that the Mayor made some 20 years ago about beat realignment, right? It is hard to forget how well the media has held Daley’s feet to the fire to back up his promise to redraw the city’s beat based on crime data. No? Oh, then you must remember that Weis also made a promise to pursue beat realignment and of course the media held his feet to the fire for the 27 months he has been Superintendent? Nope. Silence for the most part is the name of the game for our officials’ follow-up on their promises and the media coverage of their failures.
Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act, SB3269
On Thursday April 22nd the Illinois General Assembly passed SB 3269, the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act. In reading the synopsis of the bill it makes you wonder what kind of criminal justice system Illinois has if for some reason through their own discretion police agencies, who are overwhelmingly staffed by men, are able to make decisions with little to no oversight about whether or not to submit a rape kit for DNA testing. Discretion is something that gets almost no news coverage and thus eludes the citizens of Chicago.
What got no coverage in the press is the amendment that was introduced by State Senator Toi W. Hutchinson (D), 40th District, from Chicago Heights. (See Synopsis Senate Floor Amendment No. 2 below.) For some reason the Senator Hutchinson and the General Assembly believe that Police Agencies need six months just to create a list of the rape kits that sit in their offices untested and then they need another six months to get them to the lab for testing. Why the delay? It would seem that trying to catch rapists should be a priority not an inconvenience. If the Departments are going to struggle with staffing issues so be it. The kits should have been submitted in the first place independent of the need for a state law mandating it. If they do not have the administrative staff to handle it then let all the officials whose discretion was used to ignore the rape allegations of women to work without pay to right their wrong.
Another troubling issue is that the bill says that the state police must maintain or create a way to expunge profiles of men that are found to be factually innocent of the crime. Well, I cannot see how this will remotely occur. Not because the State Police won’t do this, although getting a policing agency to get rid of any type of information like this is almost impossible, but the fact is that all state level profiles that are entered into the state database are also entered in the FBI database. Who trusts the FBI to expunge information? Anyone? Anyone? Seems like this part of the legislation is a little bit of a red herring in that the state can say we expunged our database knowing it will stay in the federal one that they can search. This is how our system works.
Coverage of the problems with testing rape kits in Illinois in the Tribune by Megan Twohey:
Rape test backlog never went away, May 1, 2009
SB 3269 – Synopsis As Introduced
Creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act. Provides that law enforcement agencies that receive sexual assault evidence in connection with the investigation of a criminal case on or after the effective date of this Act must submit evidence from the case within 10 business days of receipt to a Department of State Police forensic laboratory or a laboratory approved and designated by the Director of State Police. Provides that all sexual assault evidence submitted to the Department of State Police on or after the effective date of the Act shall be analyzed and tested within 6 months after receipt of all necessary evidence and standards into the State Police Laboratory if sufficient staffing and resources are available. Provides that within 30 business days after the effective date of the Act, each Illinois law enforcement agency shall provide written notice to the Department of State Police forensic laboratory or other laboratory approved or designated by the Director of State Police stating the number of sexual assault cases in the custody of the law enforcement agency that have not been previously submitted to a laboratory for analysis. Provides that appropriate arrangements shall be made between the law enforcement agency and the Department of State Police, or a laboratory approved and designated by the Director of State Police, to ensure that all cases collected prior to the effective date of this Act, which the law enforcement agency has determined are within the statute of limitations and are the subject of a criminal investigation, are submitted within 120 days after the effective date of the Act. Amends the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act to make conforming changes.
SB 3269 – Senate Floor Amendment No. 2
Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act. Reinserts the provisions of the introduced bill. Provides that by October 15, 2010, each Illinois law enforcement agency shall provide written notice to the Department of State Police, in a form and manner prescribed by the Department, stating the number of sexual assault cases in the custody of the law enforcement agency that have not been previously submitted to a laboratory for analysis. Provides that within 180 days after the effective date of the Act, appropriate arrangements shall be made between the law enforcement agency and the Department of State Police, or a laboratory approved and designated by the Director of State Police, to ensure that all cases that were collected prior to the effective date of the Act and are, or were at the time of collection, the subject of a criminal investigation, are submitted to the Department of State Police, or a laboratory approved and designated by the Director of State Police. Amends the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act to make conforming changes. Effective September 1, 2010.
Weis’s news Summer Strategy
Sorry folks this is joke. Every summer the violence spikes and every summer the Superintendent is forced to create a new strategy. Every year the strategy is a failure. Why, because the police, and the criminal justice system as a whole, are not a solution to social problems. That however does not stop our media and local officials from providing this theater for the public to digest. Of course, you see the typical appearance from CeaseFire leaders talking about changing the mindsets of the youth and parental responsibility. While both of these issues play a role still nobody talks about jobs and education. Sad.
Weis’ news strategy is to use more predictive policing to get the results of the analysis out quicker, twice a day, to his command staff as well as local district commanders and unit commanders. He is also creating another special summer saturation squad. Wow, seems really like all he is doing is adding another 100 guys to the Mobile Strike Force or the Targeted Response Unit. Soon there will be no beat officers because they will all be in special units. Sounds good right?
National Guard & Violence in Chicago
We know from the start that this idea is ridiculous; although considering the refusal of our politicians to deal directly with the root causes of violence this is a foreseeable request. The National Guard are not an answer to the violence problems in Chicago; but it is an understandable escalation in the governmental response. No matter how many police and national guard you put on the street they will never be the sole solution.
On Tuesday Frank Main from the Sun Times talks with Tio Hardiman from CeaseFire about homicide levels. The article is basically an attempt to tell the citizens of Chicago to pause and not over-react to the recent springtime upsurge in violence. Hardiman is correct in saying that the recent upsurge in violence was expected by everyone that knows anything about violence in urban centers. Warm weather brings more people out of their homes and onto the streets thus increasing the chances of being victimized. Also, there are sociological factors about people’s behavior when the temperature rises that I will not go into here. High temperatures shorten people’s fuses among a host of other issues.
“While Hardiman said the uptick in murder in Chicago is expected — through Sunday there were 113 murders in 2010 compared to 101 for the same period of 2009 — others have said it reflects an epidemic that demands even bolder action. “
(‘Chicago has come a long way‘, Frank Main, Chicago Sun Times, Tuesday April 27, 2010
The increase we are all worried about is 12 murders? Really? Sorry folks but the simple fact is that the numbers you have been using to report this “epidemic” are pretty much worthless. Murders are a red herring and afford little information to base judgments about a public policy response. (You can read more about why this statement is true in the linked blogs in the pullout.) Police should prevent shootings because they have nothing to do with a person living or dying after the gun has been fired. The press should be more worried about whether or not the total shootings are up rather than looking at homicides, but that takes patience, analysis, and data access. All three are not areas that the Chicago media are good at.
On the topic of data access: No other organization in Chicago gets the access that CeaseFire gets to crime data from the Chicago Police Department. A good question might be why aren’t the Chicago media, policy makers, or other NGOs (like the Chicago Justice Project) provided access to data like CeaseFire? A good question that is worthy of a good answer. Something CJP will be pushing in the coming months and years.
Judge Chooses Responding Officers over their Superior.
Officers who responded to the scene of a traffic accident where two individuals died never noticed any signs that Officer John Ardelean was drunk at the scene of the accident. It was only 7 hours later at the 19th district that their superior Lt. (John) Magruder noticed signs of intoxication, administered a breathalyzer test, and arrested Ardelean. On Tuesday Cook County Judge Thomas V. Gainer Jr ruled that the responding officers were more credible then their superior.
Ardelean worked in the 19th district – the same district the accident took place. Responding officers seem to have less of a reason to cover up the level of sobriety of their colleague than their superior has reasons by arresting Ardelean hours later. This is an incredible leap that Judge Gainer made in accessing credibility. It certainly is diametrically opposed to the reasoning that the majority of citizens in Chicago would make.
“Based on a 0.032 blood alcohol level Ardelena recorded, an expert prosecution witness are due to testify that the officer would have been nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 at the time of the crash” (“Fury Over Cop DUI Case” Kim Janssen, Chicago Sun Times, Tuesday April 28, 2010)
Side note to the Sun Times:
The Sun Times has been running a series of editorials and stories recently picking up on Superintendent Weis’ efforts to break the no-snitching policy in communities. I think the CPD should lead by example so anytime they are ready to break the blue wall of silence I am ready for it. In this case, Lt. Magruder did just that only to see a judge rule against his efforts; nothing like positive reinforcement from the other levels of the criminal justice system. I wonder what will happen the next time a superior within the department sees his officers covering for one of their own? Hard to guess isn’t it?