I heard an infuriating report on the 848, the Chicago local news hour program on NPR on my way to court this morning. The host and the criminal justice reporter were talking about how Chicago police were noting that the 10% increase in homicide this year compared over last is possibly attributable to the lack of aggressive policing, due to increased police misconduct lawsuits.
Follow this stupid, self-serving logic with me.
Cops get sued for misconduct and *gasp* are held responsible for violating people’s civil rights when they kick, shoot, handcuff, beat, Tase, mace or otherwise beat the crap out of you for a less than justifiable use of force.
Misconduct leads to suit which leads to damages. Cops CAN (but not usually) be held personally responsible, but certainly, the city of Chicago is held responsible for the situation. In situations like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and well, you get the picture. Estimates are that the city of Chicago has paid out over $155 million in police misconduct settlements and awards in only the last five years. If that isn’t a sign of something wrong, what is?
Back to the story. So the police say that these misconduct awards are making them timid. They aren’t stopping as many vehicles, they’re just trying to get through their shifts without incident. As a result, they’re pulling less guns off the street, the criminals are getting the impression that they’re the ones running the asylum, and ergo, the city homicide rate is up.
What a load of shit. What a load of self-serving, unattributable, unprovable, tangentially related bullshit. I have nothing but contempt for this theory, and frankly, I love NPR, but Robert Wildeboer, just because some beat cops tell you this, doesn’t mean it’s news. And he didn’t try to offer a different viewpoint or theory from any other source. So I’ll offer one right now.
The economy. During economic downturns, the crime rate rises. Our economy is certainly stalling and there has been no significant change, except possibly for the worse, in inner city job opportunities. Many of the recent homicides are gang related, which means they’re drug related. Drug related crime is business crime, just like the homicide rate in the 20’s and 30’s was tied to Prohibition, which in turn was tied to the economic disaster our country faced. When real jobs don’t exist, black markets flourish.
To claim that Chicago’s finest are too scared to do their job, and therefore the homicide rate is up is absurd.