On December 15, 2015, I attended a public hearing at City Hall in Chicago, along with several of my colleagues, with the purpose of allowing the Fraternal Order of Police president (FOP- Dean Angelo), an Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) representative, and the Chicago Police Superintendent (acting- First Deputy John Escalante), to speak about their handling of the death of Laquan McDonald. They also spoke on their inability, or lack of desire to fix the terrorist practices, and ill dealings within the Chicago Police Department. City Council members seemed to all have wanted to get their paws on FOP President, Dean Angelo. Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez, and current Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, decided it’d be best to cower from the bubbling ridicule and resentment of the citizens of Chicago.
I sat astounded as I listened to testimony on how the City of Chicago had paid out over $500 Million in settlement money, stemming from complaints on police brutality over the last decade. I was even more confused when I listened to the response from Dean Angelo. He seemed to not care that tax payers were footing the bill for grotesque police misconduct; a half a billion dollar bill at that. When asked by an alderman if he would object to settlements for cases of police brutality being paid out of pension funds, the FOP president declared that he would most certainly be opposed to that idea even being considered. He was also asked if he would object to a tax being imposed on all officers to help mitigate the city’s settlement expenses, and he went down as not being opposed to negotiating that as a possibility.
During what can be described as a blatant slap in the face of the families of those horrifically martyred by Chicago police officers, FOP president Dean Angelo told the audience that no matter what the officer has done, he will defend that officer legally, and work diligently to ensure that the officer doesn’t accrue lost time from work. If the FOP has the primary concern of legal defense for officers, then them being involved in every aspect of officer’s profession is a conflict of interest. I believe the FOP should work as a union, and cover the cost for 3rd party legal teams to defend officers in cases of alleged police brutality. According to Dean, public attention should be concerned with the PTSD the police officer’s suffer after these events. While explaining examples of these cases of PTSD, he mentioned instances that all included officers having to respond to an accident where they saw dead children, and a few instances of adult bodies being discovered. What he didn’t mention was cases where vicious savages with badges murder innocent people, then have a hard time sleeping at night.
When asked about the frequency of use of deadly force in African American neighborhoods, the FOP president told aldermen that CPD only has 760 tasers to share amongst the department. He also testified that only 1 in 5 Chicago police officers are certified to use tasers. What are the rules of engagement, and the rules to the use of deadly force for the CPD? Is deadly force the only option when a police officer interprets that a situation is beginning to escalate? This is a clear depiction of the police state’s value on black life. Injustice seeps from the pores of an organization that is controlled and manipulated by power drunk public officials.
Next, an alderman asked Dean Angelo why he didn’t fire Van Dyke sooner. He replied, once again, that his only priority in any complaint of police misconduct, is defending the officer, and ensuring that he doesn’t incur any lost time on the job. The alderman then asked him if there were any procedures in place that could’ve had ex-officer Van Dyke terminated immediately. He then disclosed that there is a procedure in place, which shocked everyone and caused disapproval by Black Lives Matter protesters observing the address. According to him, IPRA could’ve recommended that the officer be fired. The process would’ve taken 30 days after the Board of Police approved the recommendation. This raises more suspicion about all parties involved in this case.
Chicago is bubbling close to full blown revolution, and there are more people politically involved than ever before in history. Police brutality and terror plague black communities all over the country. Consistent protests have dealt a great blow to business in downtown Chicago since the release of the tape showing the murder of Laquan McDonald. Protesters are calling upon elected officials to take immediate action at resolving this issue of brutality and terror in the Chicago Police Department. They are also calling for the immediate resignation of Rahm Emmanuel, and Anita Alvarez. Why are there only 760 tasers, but over 8,000 officers? Why are good officers afraid to speak out against misconduct by their peers? Should periodic training and certification be beefed up for all officers? The point is to figure out what we can do to totally reform a policing system that is rooted in racist beginnings. Whatever is decided upon as the course of action, it needs to happen NOW, and citizens are demanding that we be involved in decision making processes from now on. Signing off, but never offline!
By: Eugene “Geno” Stanley