chicago-tac-unit

The problem is, there are good people living in bad neighborhoods. Unfortunately most of Chicago’s violent crime occurs in those neighborhoods. Chicago’s West Garfield Park tops the list reporting 3.2 violent crimes per 1,000 residents followed by East Garfield Park at 2.8 then Fuller Park at 2.7. Compare that to 0.77 in tony Highland Park and it’s not surprising that the highest percentage of cops shooting local residents occurs in those high crime areas.

Cops working in high crime areas have a pretty good feel for who are the bad guys and let’s be honest, the bad guys in those areas advertise they’re bad guys. They talk the talk and they walk the walk. They have gang tats, dress in gang colors and in many ways strut their stuff, so to say profiling is racist and doesn’t work is largely disingenuous.

What makes it complicated is the good folks and the bad live side-by-side and that does lead to making mistakes. Small mistakes are one thing but the Chicago Police Department (CDP) has developed a sordid reputation for making big mistakes – the unjustifiable use of deadly force. As a result, the CPD is implementing new guidelines on the use of deadly force.

The new guidelines fall short of what CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson sought initially then watered down after his rank-and-file officers balked. Under the new guidelines a police officer is not allowed to use deadly force with someone fleeing even if that person committed, or was in the process of committing, a forcible felony. Specifically, a cop can’t shoot a fleeing person unless that person presents an imminent threat to police or others.

It is suspiciously similar to the State’s civilian concealed carry law under which one may use deadly force only if the aggressor is using force against him or another that is likely, or intended to cause great bodily harm or death. It is a reasonable and justifiable limitation for a civilian concealed carry holder whose right goes to self-protection but cops aren’t civilians. Cops don’t merely protect themselves but society in general.

To be fair, it should be noted in an effort to reduce the potential for mistakes the City of Chicago implemented predictive policing. The CPD routinely gathers intelligence on gangs and using an undisclosed formula they take the intelligence and develop a score to predict the likelihood of a given individual becoming a perpetrator or victim of violent crime.

According to a May 16th Chicago Sun Times article, there are a number of factors taken into account including involvement with gangs, drugs, known associations, and prior violent and non-violent arrests. The result is called the “Strategic Subject List.” The CPD uses that information to identify individuals they try to counsel and/or keep an eye on. On the surface it simply makes sense but as always the devil is in the details.

CPD claims that the top 1,400 people on the list are most responsible for gun violence in Chicago. If that number seems large it will likely come as a surprise that the CPD pulled its information from a list of nearly 400,000 people who were arrested for any reason and fingerprinted. The list goes back to 2013.

The Sun Times did an analysis of the list and discovered about “half the people at the top of the list – those the department suggests are most likely to be involved in gun violence either as a victim or a suspect – have never been arrested for illegal gun possession.” The results also showed that 20 of the 153 people deemed most at risk had never been arrested for any violent or gun-related crime. Residents of the most affected communities balk at the Strategic Subject List and complain it unjustifiably targets more people for CPD attention. They frequently cite it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and the requirement for probable cause, but does it really?

Fourth Amendment protections are based on evaluating levels of probability that a criminal act is happening or will happen. Cops get a search warrant to look for such evidence; it’s an informed fishing trip based on credible information obtain in any one of many possible methods. They don’t necessarily know for a fact that what they’re looking for is going to be in the house they’re about to search. Is that not also predictive policing? Unfortunately, public opinion, though to some degree justifiable, equals political pressure and if one thing is for certain it is that Chicago pols do not want to incite their district’s John Q. Public because that costs votes.

So now, Chicago’s finest will go through de-escalation training. Touchy-feely is, in-and-of itself, fine but then they have to go patrol the mean streets of Chicago with yet more doubt in their minds, more concern for their career and, thanks to CPD grasping at straws to hold public opinion at bay, more restrictions on their ability to keep the themselves and the public safe.