New Policing Strategy Certain to Wreak Havoc on Chicago's Streets
Brown and Carter seek numbers crunching as replacement for vigilant policing.
This past Monday, March 22, the pleasant weather inspired many Chicagoans to venture out into their neighborhoods to enjoy the confirmation that a cold and dreary winter, which capped a full year of civil unrest and a pandemic, was finally over. Unfortunately, with at least 44 people shot, including several police officers, and 14 killed in the first week of Spring, the new season also served as a warning that with David Brown and Eric Carter running the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the Windy City is on the precipice of unparalleled violence.
Already proven as failed leaders during last year’s rage, rioting and looting, the focus of Superintendent Brown and First Deputy Superintendent Carter seems to be not on implementing sound anti-violence plans or learning from the previous year’s errors, but on actively finding ways to fail more spectacularly.
Apparently lacking the patience for a deep-dive into thoughtful and strategic policy, CPD's administration has made it known they need simplified numeric metrics to determine whether subordinates are succeeding or failing in implementing a seemingly undefinable anti-crime strategy. Whereas Garry McCarthy introduced “Compstat,” a statistics-based review of criminal activity and police response intended to monitor success, Brown and Carter have added “Reformstat” and “Compstat-Plus.” Cue the endless man-hours of preparation and meetings, all to crunch numbers for the sake of crunching numbers.
Naturally, this begs one momentous question: Just what is it Messrs. Brown and Carter are measuring? The duo has declared success will be attained if “community engagement equals enforcement.” The objective is for every person stopped by police – “enforcement” – to be balanced by a person who encounters an officer in a friendly manner – “community engagement.” If, for example, one’s feelings are hurt through a negative police interaction, rest assured, somewhere in the city a positive police interaction is taking place. While a burglar is stopped on one corner, officers should be doing something such as rescuing a cat from atop a tree on the next corner, thereby bringing a kind of yin and yang balance to Chicago. If the CPD does its job and arrests the man who carried out a carjacking, they’ll immediately equal this enforcement action by pumping gas or performing yard work for the elderly. This way, their thinking goes, the negative that somehow was created by enforcing the law has been corrected.
Um…what? Isn’t bringing justice to a victim a positive interaction in itself?
The view from inside CPD right now is reported to be anything but balanced. Unclear or inappropriate direction, a lack of legitimacy in a superintendent who has embraced nepotism by creating a cushy promotional spot for his top assistant’s wife, and lack of support for officers suffering unprecedented challenges has led to a department in shambles. Too busy maintaining their from-the-bunker style of leadership, Brown and Carter have already surrendered Chicago to a summer of violence. Their precious “metrics” for enforcement consist mostly of traffic stops where no tickets are issued and Terry stops where no arrests are made. It’s no wonder they need to balance this “enforcement” with feel-good encounters.
One may recall that alleged pressure to conduct traffic and Terry stops led Chicago to implement the devastating Investigatory Stop Agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which was followed by record murders in 2016, and provided fodder for then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan to enforce a devastating federal Consent Decree. Demanding this type of “enforcement” is virtually identical to a coach instructing basketball players to shoot the ball the moment they get it, irrespective of where they stand on the court and regardless of which bucket they are aiming for. Policing by numbers went out with VHS tapes, yet a police department with an “Office of Constitutional Policing” embraces it? Even more bizarre, their favored “community engagement” metric is something labelled a “Positive Community Interaction” or “P.C.I.” An official P.C.I. can be anything. Literally anything, as all it takes to create one is for an officer to request from a dispatcher “an event for a P.C.I.” The officer could have helped an elderly person cross the street, waved at a child, or simply smiled while passing another driver. Likewise, it can also mean nothing.
For those interested, take a moment and listen to a CPD scanner channel some afternoon and try to count how many times a “P.C.I.” is broadcast over the air. The most meaningless metric in policing seems to be the most common broadcast day and night across Chicago.
A recent story by CBS 2 newsreader Dave Savini disclosed that CPD overlooked a DNA evidence report, which caused a delay in the arrest of a rapist of a ten-year-old girl. Glossing over the important aspects of DCFS’ errors in judgment and poor parenting in this child’s home, Savini directed his ire at his usual villain – the police.
It’s all-too-typical for the Chicago media to take such a shallow dive into a story. By directing his focus on a mistake by a detective unit handling what is arguably the most depressing and emotionally scarring crime – sexual abuse against children – Savini, as usual, failed to comprehend how overwhelmed by crime the police department has become. Doing so might expose the Chicago media’s own culpability in driving the anti-police, pro-violence narrative. Personnel numbers are dwindling from attrition and a reduced budget. Police are regularly unfairly villainized by a corrupt media.
With a lack of credible leadership supporting officers, out of control violence, and a shocking misallocation of resources, it’s likely officers will take a moment for introspection and seek a balance of their own. It makes more and more sense for an officer to balance their passion to equal the support Chicago gives them. Without this balance, why would an officer go above and beyond their duty to place themselves at risk of being shot, if the next officer will be thrown under the bus by an indifferent leadership and a debased media? Why would an officer rush towards the sound of gunfire? For that matter, why volunteer to investigate child sex crimes? Can Superintendent Brown create cushy inside jobs for all members, or only First Deputy Superintendent Carter’s wife?
During his brief tenure in Chicago, interim Superintendent Charlie Beck demonstrated a deep grasp of priorities in improving police service by refocusing resources to staff neighborhood stations and detective offices. To the detriment of Chicago, David Brown and Eric Carter have unbelievably taken the exact opposite approach. After moving close to a thousand officers into their citywide “Community Safety Team,” they plan to re-institute the citywide “Summer Mobile Unit” and staff it with resources from neighborhood police districts, and more alarmingly, detectives.
The “Summer Mobile Unit” is another large group of officers that can be parked in a specific area to conduct stops to generate numbers, but does not respond to the 911 calls which the residents of the City so desperately need answering. Utilizing highly trained and talented detectives, and further stripping neighborhood districts of badly needed assets for these number-generating teams could only seem to be a sound idea to those tucked away in their spacious, guarded offices detached from the reality of crime in Chicago.
Summer mobile is expected to start as early as April 1st. This is an appropriate day. With Brown and Carter leading CPD, the joke is on Chicago.