Obscuring the Lede

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

So tucked into this story about a police officer who was hit by a bus while attempting to arrest a man for swearing at outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley . . . is the fact that a police officer was attempting to arrest a man for swearing at outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Since when is it a crime to swear at politicians? To swear in public?  To swear at politicians in public?

(Via “Dan” in the comments.)

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40 Responses to “Obscuring the Lede”

  1. #1 |  Cyto | 

    I’ll venture a guess: Since “The Machine” took power in Chicago?

    Chicago – a city so in love with it’s political power machinations that they actually named a professional sports team after their political machine.

  2. #2 |  pegr | 

    He ran. That’s “Contempt of Cop” I’m surprised he wasn’t shot.

  3. #3 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Kopycinski, of the 6500 block of West Wellington, was charged with three counts of resisting arrest, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of reckless conduct.”

    Bull shit! Saying fuck the mayor can get you arrested!

    So, I guess if you make the stupid decision to chase a guy for cussing, then one of your guys gets hit by a CTA bus, you have to make up some bogus shit to save face. Or you could just ignore the guy and look for people you might pose a REAL threat. Not to be a dick, but when I heard that the officer got hit after chasing a guy FOR CURSING, the song “Instant Karma” went through my head. Man, I live in Central IL, which is not paradise, but I’m fucking glad I don’t live in that den of statist bastards.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    It’s a Chicago paper. If you suggested to them that it’s okay to swear at Mayor Daley they would probably step away outside the blast radius as if God were going to strike you dead on the spot. I grew up in Milwaukee and always had the impression that the Daleys were a bit like Mafia Dons. They probably take it for granted that if you insult the boss, one of his henchmen will haul you off to teach you some respect.

  5. #5 |  Brandon | 

    It’s not illegal to insult or curse at the Mayor, but it’s a shame the kind of bad luck that happens to people who do.

  6. #6 |  perlhaqr | 

    Lese Majeste, Radley.

  7. #7 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Kopycinski should sue the officer, Mayor Daley, and the CPD in open court for a financial judgment and a protection order against further retaliation, so that the next thug who goes rogue on him ends up in jail.

    The cop should be eating humble pie on “60 Minutes” like Keith Herrera did.

  8. #8 |  jcalton | 

    There are all kinds of laws against public lewdness, nuisance, disorderliness and so forth. I’m not saying there SHOULD be such laws, I’m just saying it’s a fact. I presume everyone here knows that.

    Whether or not it’s true in Chicago (or Cook County or Illinois) I don’t know. If it is a law, it does actually provide the police the pretext they need to trample all over your freedom and squeeze the life out of you with the justice machine.

  9. #9 |  Henry Bowman | 

    Andrew (#7), suing won’t do any good whatsoever. The judges are part of the machine, as well.

  10. #10 |  Cyto | 

    Interesting that you mention Herrera in the wake of the recent decisions on entering homes without warrants (not a problem and don’t offer any resistance say the courts). His unit was investigated for entering homes without warrants and holding suspects until they revealed drugs and/or guns. I guess they shoulda waited a few more months to get caught.

    Now all they’d have to do is say “I smell marijuana” before busting the door down.

  11. #11 |  Cyto | 

    Radley rightly ridicules the author for burying the lede, but there might be more to it than that. The comments on the article are uniformly “since when can you get arrested for swearing at a public official”, but there are several comments that have been removed because the user “has been blocked by our staff”.

    Normally any article that mentions police would have the requisite population of authoritarian fanboys lauding the police, let alone one in which an officer is injured. Not a single one as of this posting.

    It makes me wonder if this article isn’t targeted at getting this response, or if there isn’t a friend in the moderator’s chair making sure that the message gets heard.

  12. #12 |  Cyto | 

    One final observation about Kopycinski:

    Kopycinski, of 6569 W. Wellington Ave., was arrested at 5:02 p.m. and was charged with three counts of resisting arrest, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of reckless conduct

    How in the world can you rack up 3 counts of resisting arrest in one incident?

    Also, the police say he was spitting at people in addition to cursing. Really? So where are the assault charges? I hope he’s got a good attorney – even though these are misdemeanor charges, he’s going to end up with what we call a “rap sheet” that can be used to justify anything that might happen to him later.

  13. #13 |  Zargon | 

    #11

    How in the world can you rack up 3 counts of resisting arrest in one incident?

    Easy, they said “Stop resisting” 3 times.

  14. #14 |  James J.B. | 

    Re the bus – seems there is a god.

  15. #15 |  Greg | 

    In Chicago ‘contempt of Daley’ is much akin to ‘contempt of Gotti’ in Queens. Plenty of folks hate both those families, but it’s just not prudent to talk about it without knowing your audience. Don’t get me wrong, you certainly should be able to tell either one of them what wastes of flesh they are.

    As a tangent, I’ve always been fascinated at the way people (esp. outside Chicagoland) view ‘the machine’.

    There’s absolutely nothing happening in Chicago that doesn’t happen in NYC, LA, SF, SEA, STL or any of dozens of major metros all across the country. The only thing slightly different is that Chicagoans gave it name and moved it slightly above board.

    I don’t live there anymore. But I was born at Cook County Memorial and still have a few living relatives there.

  16. #16 |  Black Market | 

    @ Zargon,

    At first, I laughed when reading your comment. (#12).

    Then, I realized that’s probably what happened.

  17. #17 |  derfel cadarn | 

    To bad he wasn`t run over by the bus,by the way FUCK the MAYOR!!!

  18. #18 |  A McGillican | 

    I know in Michigan its against the law to swear in front of women and children. A young man was actually convicted of this crime for swearing when he tipped his canoe over in front of a church group. Know Illinois, it just may be a crime there too.

  19. #19 |  Buddy Hinton | 

    This is great news:

    http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/dpp/news/crime/ex-mpd-officer-sentenced-for-transgender-beating-tax-evasion-mfo-20110517

    h/t: injustice everywhere

    The beating of Duanna Johnson is the video that makes me angriest of any police video ever. I think the police probably killed her later for bringing a civil suit, too.

  20. #20 |  Rhayader | 

    Karma’s a bitch.

  21. #21 |  perlhaqr | 

    The Mayor is a fink!

  22. #22 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #9:

    Maybe the judges are corrupt, but the solution isn’t to cower before a bunch of unabashed thugs in uniform. This is a clear case of a citizen’s freedom of speech being trampled upon by a politically motivated police officer. If the Illinois State courts are too corrupt to provide relief when the facts of the case support it, the courts and all parties previously sued in state court should be sued in Federal court. All parties involved in a conspiracy as blatant as this one should be hammered until they’re impeached, indicted, sued out of a job, or placed under a consent decree.

    Your claim of partiality in the Illinois State courts is a perfect example of Federal sovereignty needing to trump state sovereignty in the interest of equity before the law. One of the conditions of living under US sovereignty is that you don’t get to run your state, county or municipality as a goddamn feudal fiefdom. We established the ground rules immediately after the Civil War with the passage of the Thirteenth through Fifteenth Amendments. Those rules don’t just apply to Southern bigots in the mold of George Wallace. They apply to scumbag hereditary blowhard crooks of the Yankee persuasion like Richard Daley as well. If Lord Mayor Sir Richard II doesn’t like it, he can run for mayor of Vladivostok. Otherwise, he and his henchmen can stuff it.

    The message has to be gotten to people like that that they’re Americans, that if they hold elected or appointed office in the United States the Federal government will consider them to be under its sovereignty, and that as long as the Federal government has the capability to impose its writ on the States they will not be allowed to subvert the US Constitution with impunity.

    I know that the hard line that I’ve advised requires more courage, drive and idealism than most people have, but conceding defeat will only empower the bastards.

  23. #23 |  Andrew Roth | 

    By the way, fuck the Mayors Daley. Tentatively fuck Rahm Emmanuel until he can show that he isn’t a machine tough and has a grip on the steak knife rage. And God bless Janusz Kopycinski, the CTA and the United States of America.

  24. #24 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #10:

    Scary point. A whip-kissing ruling allowing cops to burglarize private property in non-emergency situations is the last thing that the Chicago PD needs after harboring Jon Burge in its ranks for decades post-Miranda. It has trouble accepting that it is a law enforcement agency, not an armed supreme legislature.

    Speaking of Herrera, if he ever applies for a sworn position in my part of Humboldt County, I’ll put in a good public word for him. We need more cops around here who understand the stakes and give a shit about the Fourth Amendment. A once scared, twice shy felon who has learned his lesson is a huge improvement over the officious, arrogant creeps who make up so much of the Eureka PD.

  25. #25 |  freedomfan | 

    Andrew Roth (#22-#24),
    [blockquote]
    If the Illinois State courts are too corrupt to provide relief when the facts of the case support it, the courts and all parties previously sued in state court should be sued in Federal court. All parties involved in a conspiracy as blatant as this one should be hammered until they’re impeached, indicted, sued out of a job, or placed under a consent decree.

    Your claim of partiality in the Illinois State courts is a perfect example of Federal sovereignty needing to trump state sovereignty in the interest of equity before the law.[/blockquote]
    I certainly agree with the sentiment and it would be nice if there were a federal approach to address local muscle who can’t keep their cool when their kingpin is disrespected. But, the new mayor Emanuel was a federal congressman for Chicago and then Chief of Staff for President Obama, and he didn’t get to his current position without owing an armload of favors to his predecessor. Meanwhile, as good ol’ Rahm takes the mayor’s chair, guess who becomes Chief of Staff to the head of the federal government? That’s correct: Bill Daley, the brother of the besmirched recent mayor. So, I am not expecting a federal case to go far on this one.

    I guess that’s not to say that we should never look to the federal government for help on anything. Say, for instance, if the Canadians invade, I would expect the feds to look into it. But, on issues of politicians using government power to take petty vengeance on their critics, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  26. #26 |  freedomfan | 

    Crap! Isn’t there a federal subsidy that would pay for a Preview button?!?

  27. #27 |  Chris in AL | 

    I’d say the guy is very lucky the cop was only grazed by the bus. Had he been killed in the process of ‘apprehending’ this man, Kopycinski would likely be charged with manslaughter.

  28. #28 |  donald | 

    The saddest phrase in the article is “non-life threatening injuries” Karma just ain’t bitchy enough for my taste.

  29. #29 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #25:

    Shit, I’d forgotten about Bill Daley’s new job. What a dirty, incestuous world.

    The outcome of a Federal suit in this case could depend very much on the specific Federal judge hearing it. If the judge is corrupt and beholden to the Daley machine, it could well be wrongly dismissed as a political favor (although if I’m not mistaken civil procedures make refiling relatively easy; I’d appreciate input from any attorneys on the thread).

    If the judge is not beholden to the machine, I think a suit could well be upheld. Most judges don’t take kindly to being steamrolled by politicians. Federal judges have lifetime tenure, so an honest judge has the upper hand against any retaliatory measures. President Obama certainly recognizes that there’s a huge risk of political blowback if he is caught meddling in the courts on behalf of Chicago ward bosses. He would probably tell Bill Daley and Rahmbo to shut up and stay the hell out of the matter, too, since it wouldn’t be good for his reelection campaign to have his chiefs of staff trying to corrupt the Federal judiciary.

    Obama would have to choose between letting the CPD and Richard Daley get pie on their faces over a misbehaving beat cop and being personally tied to a much more serious judicial influence peddling scandal. Fox News would probably blow it out of the water in a matter of days, if not hours, and the major papers would have scathing, in-depth investigative reports before long. Swing voters would not be pleased.

    Obama doesn’t seem nearly arrogant enough to think that he could pull strings in a matter like that without leaving fingerprints. He had enough trouble with Jeremiah Wright in 2008, and with the economy in the toilet I doubt that he wants to be associated with the dirty tricks of Chicago machine operators. It’s one thing to have sleazy ward bosses doing administrative work at the White House, and another entirely to have them calling in judicial favors for sleazeballs and henchmen back home. Weaseling out of a judicial influence peddling scandal is a lot harder than weaseling out of a private association with a fruitcake like Jeremiah Wright.

    Obama is a shrewd, savvy politician who would have no compunction about canning Daley’s ass or taking Rahm to the woodshed over any act of petty vengeance carried out at the Federal level on the Lord Mayor’s behalf. At the same time, there’s no way that he wants to expose himself to more Jimmy Carter comparisons by having to fire high-level aides late in his first term. He’d rather let his homeys back in Chicago take the fall than get his hands on a tar baby that they conceived. The watchword is probably, “behave yourselves, boys, you’re in polite company.”

  30. #30 |  JOR | 

    Sadly, the pig survived.

  31. #31 |  Andrew Roth | 

    It’s also worth noting the free pass that the Daleys and their partisans have gotten from the media over their platitudes about “the city that works.” They’ve been allowed to peddle at will the deceptive implication that their ethnic ward boss act makes Chicago uniquely competent at snow removal, pothole repair, and getting cops on the streets, as if other cities have no idea of how to do any of these things. Meanwhile, Chicago has truly horrific and irredeemable public housing projects, a high rate of violent crime, one of the least accountable big-city police forces in the country, and a subway system that reached its breaking point under Daley Jr. and became an international laughingstock.

    There is no way that Chicago has as broadly competent a city government as Denver, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego or Portland. The difference is that the mayors and city councilors in those cities aren’t blowhards who publicly pat themselves on the back for having streets departments.

    Let’s not forget that Daley Jr. had a city crew tear up the runway at Meigs Field shortly after 9/11 without public notice or a city council vote. He was much more successful than he should have been at spinning the jackhammer attack into his narrative of a mayor who delivers the goods and looks out for the safety of his constituents. He had a reasonable concern about terrorist attacks using aerosols sprayed from private aircraft, but it takes some paranoid derangement for a mayor to freak out to the point of going postal on city infrastructure under cover of darkness.

    Giuliani has gotten an even greater free pass since 9/11, with the media parroting his bullshit about being “America’s mayor.” More accurately, given the number of people he alienated prior to 9/11, including a lot of cops, it was no small feat that he remained New York’s mayor long enough to get his shit together after the attacks.

    It’s an indication of the degree of intellectual rot in the media that these overbearing, egotistical loose cannons have been so uncritically extolled as two of the best mayors in the country.

  32. #32 |  JOR | 

    The media, and American culture generally, loves a rebellious loose cannon, as long as said loose cannon is in some way responsible for bossing people around, and preferably, is in the business of engaging or directing physical violence. Hence their love of corrupt politicians (as long as said politicians are sufficiently harmful and abusive) and cops who “bend the rules” (again, as long as they’re doing so for the purpose of hurting people). Rebels who just sort of go their own way, live at the margins, and don’t hurt anybody – Real Americans hate those damned hippies.

    They also love them some “straight-talkers”, i.e. people who are selling stupid, thoughtless bullshit the same as everyone else, but going out of their way to posture as tough and rude while doing so. This accounts for most of stand-up comedy and talk radio, and the occasional politician or other such jackass. Bonus points if the “straight talker” is also an abusive cop or mayor or other bureaucrat.

  33. #33 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #32:

    I agree, we have some really dark spots in our national psyche. It’s scary, sadistic shit.

    The media feed it not just because they get good ratings for doing so but also because they’re run by lazy, stingy hacks. Some outlets are able to get great ratings or circulation with serious journalism, but it’s cheaper and quicker to peddle shallow depravity.

    The people calling the shots in the depraved ends of the media are unprincipled schemers who don’t have to deal with the consequences of the vileness that they produce. They can afford to live in neighborhoods where the cops are competent and well behaved because they’re given no alternative, and where there’s enough vigilance and social order to deter street criminals who are abetted by gangster music from Hollywood studios. (These are just different aspects of the same stone.) As far as the rest of us out in the colonies–well, it must suck to be us.

  34. #34 |  Greg | 

    There is no way that Chicago has as broadly competent a city government as Denver, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego or Portland. The difference is that the mayors and city councilors in those cities aren’t blowhards who publicly pat themselves on the back for having streets departments.

    Andrew,

    I am curious as to what you base that thesis on. From the mid-90s through the mid-00s the nature of my work had me moving. Often by some conventions.

    In that roughly 10 year period I lived in (for at least 8 months) LA, SF, Seattle, Portland, SLC, OKC, KC, Phoenix, and ABQ. More importantly, I did business in those cities. Permits, zoning, construction, I had my fingers in many pies, or was at least party to what was happening.

    I can state from personal experience that they are all pretty much the same. Yup, the window dressing varies, but at the end of the day if we wanted to put a unit somewhere that a city was ‘concerned’ about, the plot arc was always the same. We always got what we wanted.

    Are some a bit better at one thing than another? Of course. But, even among that roster, there are no saints. None.

    Meanwhile, Chicago has truly horrific and irredeemable public housing projects, a high rate of violent crime,…

    Robert Taylor has been gone for what, 5 years? They got the last building in Cabrini Green recently. IIRC, the rest of the scattered highrises are scheduled for demolition. What are you talking about?

    Violent crime? Of course, Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Hardly surprising.

    Let’s not forget that Daley Jr. had a city crew tear up the runway at Meigs Field shortly after 9/11 without public notice or a city council vote. He was much more successful than he should have been at spinning the jackhammer attack into his narrative of a mayor who delivers the goods and looks out for the safety of his constituents. He had a reasonable concern about terrorist attacks using aerosols sprayed from private aircraft, but it takes some paranoid derangement for a mayor to freak out to the point of going postal on city infrastructure under cover of darkness.

    The FAA could and should have had Daley prosecuted for Meigs. Daley also violated an agreement reached with Ryan to keep it open till 2024. Regardless, the whole incident was about building yet another monument to self. ‘Teh terrorists’ spin was the most pathetic pile of shit in the world. Even the most r-tarded of r-tards didn’t buy that for a minute.

    However, if you think a multi-term mayor doesn’t do stuff like that everywhere in the US, you are missing the news. As completely above board? Likely not. But if one has the juice and wants to make something happen in any city in this country, ‘favors’ will be transferred and it will occur regardless of public outcry or such naivtey as rule of law.

  35. #35 |  Mario | 

    Helmut O’Hooligan @ #3

    “Kopycinski, of the 6500 block of West Wellington, was charged with three counts of resisting arrest, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of reckless conduct.”

    Too bad we’ll never know for sure what happened, since who in Illinois would dare record the event. I guess we’ll just have to take the cops’ word for it.

  36. #36 |  willienelso3 | 

    good one, mario. excellent point.

  37. #37 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Greg, let me try to answer your questions from #34.

    First of all, point well taken on Daley’s use of terrorism as a pretext to close Meigs Field. All the same, even if it was retarded to believe the terrorism excuse, it got a lot of traction in the media and wasn’t really shot down as a bunch of self-serving bullshit. He was allowed to present it as his side of the story in spats with the city council and the FAA. Some of the reporting on that episode sucked, but it fooled a lot of people and played into Daley’s persona of a politician who got things done.

    My basis for arguing that Sac, LA, etc. have more broadly competent municipal governments than Chicago was that those cities do a better overall job than Chicago on policing, street maintenance, public housing and rapid transit. That’s far from a comprehensive list of city services, but it’s broad and basic enough that a city that fails on at least three out of four, as Chicago has done in recent years, can be reasonably said to have a dysfunctional government. (I’m not familiar enough with the condition of Chicago’s streets to say whether they’re maintained as well as is often claimed, but I’m not aware of any recent horror stories.) My reasoning is that failure on most of these metrics cannot be balanced out by excellence in others (e.g., Chicago’s green roofs and permeable pavement initiatives). Once you start screwing up the basics, excuses and red herrings won’t do.

    The housing projects that I had in mind included Robert Taylor and Cabrini Green, as you suggested. I was aware that Robert Taylor had been closed and that there was an ongoing campaign to demolish other high-rise projects. Maybe I should have referred to these projects in the past tense, although I’m not sure. The very existence of those complexes is damning; a city that cares about its poor or is responsive to them as voters does not warehouse them in such hellholes.

    That principle was, and is, lost on many of the reporters covering Chicago for the national media. The reputation of Chicago’s government as a results-oriented machine that delivered the goods surfaced in news reports in the years when the high-rise complexes were Third World war zones. In particular, I remember a piece that NPR aired during the 2004 presidential campaign in which Mary Ann Smith, an alderman from the Northwest Side, gushed about how little Chicagoans cared for partisanship and how effectively they put the screws to their aldermen, especially herself. She and the reporter talked at length about Chicago’s Reagan Democrats but said nothing about the disastrous conditions in poorer parts of town. I think a lot of journalists figure that if ward politics work for the wealthy and the middle class, it doesn’t matter whether they work for the poor.

    Attitudes like that are pervasive in American journalism, but their particular effect for Chicago was to embellish the national reputation of the Daley machine. The result was that even when they were unaccountable for all screw-ups, Chicago’s elected officials were able to maintain a reputation for being among the most accountable in the country. It probably helped that many of them were blowhards who talked a good game, since that’s what a lot of journalists are, too.

    Re: violence, I agree that Chicago’s gun control ought to be relaxed so that peaceable citizens may arm themselves against hoodlums who won’t obey the laws anyway. Virginia’s open carry law is a great model. In fact, I go a step further than most: I think that nonviolent felons should have their Second Amendment rights automatically restored upon completion of their sentences and that mechanisms should be established to restore those rights to violent felons who can demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated.

    That said, I’m unwilling to blame Chicago’s crime problem solely on gun control because it lets the police entirely off the hook. Competent police agencies are able to deter violent crime even when hindered by counterproductive gun laws. The Philadelphia PD has done so under Charles Ramsey and the NYPD did so under Giuliani’s chiefs, although with unreasonable collateral damage to civil liberties in both cases.

    In the Chicago PD’s defense, it hasn’t been always or everywhere asleep at the switch, but Jon Burge’s Dirty Harry act and the evidence-planting ring at the Special Operations Unit would never have flown in a properly run agency. Until recently there was practically no accountability for misconduct in the CPD, and we know that innocent people were sent to prison as a result. It stands to reason that an agency that allowed torture and evidence planting engaged in a lot of generally shitty patrol and investigative practices, especially in the projects. I would be amazed if other Chicago cops can’t be shown to have blood on their hands on their hands on account of their incompetence, callousness or criminality.

  38. #38 |  Greg | 

    Andrew,

    I think we mainly agree on Miegs, I guess I just don’t see anyone in Chicagoland believing the press, unless it was Royko writing a column from the great beyond.

    (Read his book ‘BOSS’ if you’re ever bored and want a good Daley insight…)

    As far a public housing goes, do remember that when Taylor, The Green, Pruitt-Igo etc. were built, they were a shining good new idea. That they went wrong and were neglected for decades is another matter altogether. They really were designed to be state-of-the-art transitional housing.

    I agree that we can attribute some of the failure modalities of high-rise public housing to the Chicago machine. But only some. It failed spectacularly everywhere it was attempted, some due to inherent unforseen flaws in the high-rise living model, and some due to Federal policies that pretty well made failure a guaranteed outcome.

    As far as poorer parts of town being neglected goes, I think we can both agree that SF’s Hunters Point, South Sacto, LA’s Compton err, Southland, whatever NYC are hasn’t been gentrified by hipsters, are still receiving the same level of neglect that they have been for 40 years. Maybe more.

    That being said, I just don’t see Chicago as any less provincial or any more class-discriminatory than any other major US city. Sure, they all have little areas of hope and light, but, in my experience anyway, they all do mostly the same stuff.

    You’re right, I was being hyperbolic about the gun-control thing. Sort of.

    Once again, the corruption of the CPD (which one of my grandfathers served on) seems to me no different than most other tier I cities. Nowhere near the banana-republic level corruption and abuse of New Orleans or LA, but it ain’t Wichita KS either.

    As far as Philly and NYC’s much lauded crime reductions, I’m still waiting for the falsifications, down-rating, and complete non-reporting of crimes to come to light. They did years ago in STL, and I highly doubt that da Lou’ is bleeding edge in this field. Just a thought.

    In the end, in my experience Chicago is about the same as most other big cities in most regards. They all have areas of excellence and areas of utter failure. They all have crooked PDs, they all treat their poor with varying levels of disdain, and if you know the right people, you can generally get what you want form the government.

  39. #39 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Here’s another obscured lede, this time from a caption in the San Francisco Chronicle:

    “Remembering one of their own

    “Hundreds of officers from several states attend the funeral Friday for Hawthorne police officer Andrew Garton at Seacoast Grace Church in Cypress (Orange County). The officers gathered to remember the motorcycle officer, who was killed May 26 in a collision with another officer while escorting the funeral of a Manhattan Beach police officer who had died of cancer. A Cypress motorcycle officer was injured in a collision near Friday’s memorial.”

    Lordy.

  40. #40 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Greg,

    Points well taken on the nuances of highrise public housing, public distrust in Chicago journalists, and Comp-Stat data forgery.

    I don’t agree with your claim that official neglect has held steady or worsened in South Los Angeles over the past forty years. The indications that I’ve seen are that it has lessened somewhat since the Rodney King riots. There are demographic factors in play, too, but the LAPD does seem to have cleaned up much of its act and started putting more effort into the rougher neighborhoods, especially under Bratton and Beck. A similar thing was true of a number of rough neighborhoods in New York during the nineties. Is there still neglect and decay in these places? Absolutely. I just don’t think the trends are all bad.

    Incidentally, Compton is a separate incorporated city currently under the Sheriff’s patrol jurisdiction. It borders South Central LA, however, so a lot of social problems bleed back and forth, and it’s in a part of LA County where the city and city/county lines are a crazy quilt.

    The sort of Comp-Stat forgeries that you mentioned happening in St. Louis have started in New York. The retaliation against Adrian Schoolcraft for breaching the blue wall of silence is a scary case. I haven’t heard any stories from Philadelphia, but that’s not to say that they aren’t happening or won’t happen.

    The big problem that I see with Comp-Stat is that its adherents use the same heavyhanded, punitive tactics against competent precinct and field commanders as they do against incompetents. Some of the high-level beancounters at One Police Plaza seem to be using a monomaniacal assessment methodology worthy of the Asperger’s/autism spectrum: crime up bad; crime down good. No real effort is made to take outside factors into account. Everything is blamed on or credited to the commander. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

    Giuliani had the same philosophy, and Edward Conlon wrote in “Blue Blood” that his colleagues in the NYPD didn’t care much for some of his impositions.

    It’s reasonable to put the screws on commanders for being asleep at the switch while hood rats openly terrorize their precincts. It’s unreasonable to put the turn the screws over minor increases in one-off crimes that they have no way to predict or deter. Some of the high-level commanders involved don’t know the difference or don’t have the courage to stand up for their cops when politicians make unreasonable demands.

    It’s worth noting that when NYPD implemented Comp-Stat at the tail end of the crack wars, there was a lot of low-hanging fruit to be picked. Once the worst offenders were incarcerated or otherwise deterred and their neighborhoods were safer, however, marginal improvements became harder and harder to achieve. The brass apparently didn’t account for this huge change, but kept the screws as tight as ever on precinct and field commanders. It seems that the only way for some of these commanders, including competent ones, to get results was to fabricate them.

    Comp-Stat also appears to give cover for the stupid political games (read: bullying of subordinates) that some commanders like to play. It’s another excuse to retaliate against someone you don’t like by assigning him to a night watch in the North Bronx because he isn’t doing a good job in Jamaica, but really because he lives in mid-Nassau County and you want to add some hell to his commute and family life. I wouldn’t count out that sort of juvenile bullshit as a stressor in some of these Comp-Stat scandals.

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