The Ferguson Effect
Despite being caught red-handed releasing confidential information about Chicago Police Officers, the former agency that supposedly investigated police misconduct allegations has never earned the opportunity to publish an editorial like the one Inspector General Joe Ferguson wrote for the Sun-Times on Oct. 19.
Nor has Ferguson initiated an investigation into the agency.
In one case, a Chicago Police Officer found out that an IPRA investigator was releasing information about her to her ex-husband, who was stalking the officer.
This is what officer Emily Hock said about the case in an article published in the Tribune:
"I was completely almost taken off my feet," Hock, an eight-year department veteran now on medical leave, said in an interview in her lawyer's offices. "I couldn't believe that an agency that has this much power and this much access to police officers' confidential records ... was providing them to somebody who I was scared for my life from."
Then there was the case in which an IPRA investigator was caught releasing confidential documents in an investigation of Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans. Ferguson’s agency was right on target with that investigation, right?
Not exactly. In fact, a Sun-Times article quotes Ferguson as saying that his agency could not get ahold of the IPRA investigator because the investigator is out of the surrounding area.
From the Sun-Times:
But the investigator “left the agency and moved out of the surrounding area — beyond the reach of an OIG subpoena.” The reporter declined to cooperate with the IG investigation, the report states.
As a result, Ferguson said his office “could not develop sufficient evidence directly linking the former IPRA investigator, or any other city employee, to the public reporting and publishing of the confidential DNA report.”
So, a Chicago Police Commander who established a reputation for fighting gang members and crime in every district where he worked cannot even count on the city’s Inspector General to properly investigate the case because the accused investigator is out of the surrounding area?
Imagine how that excuse would fly if a police officer was the accused.
Ferguson’s lame response to evidence of wrongdoing in both cases emerges in the wake of his own condemnation of the police department following the tragic shooting of a school teacher in Rogers Park a few weeks ago.
Here is what Ferguson wrote in the Sun-Times:
And let’s admit what we all know: Our city does not have a comprehensive crime strategy. We desperately need one — and a leader to make it a reality. What we don’t need? Spinning an innovative technology-enhanced tactical pilot project as a crime strategy, which it is not.
If you are missing the needed expertise internally, then get help from the outside. People chosen by you, not City Hall. People with experience and demonstrated successes in developing and implementing crime strategies in large municipalities.
CPD’s shamefully low case-clearance rate — about 25 percent of homicides and less than 5 percent of non-fatal shootings in Chicago result in arrests — is astonishingly below any respectable national standard. Fix it. Now.
Tough talk from a city investigator who cannot even locate someone accused of wrongdoing merely because that person moved out of the city.
If Ferguson truly wants to confront the obstacles to more effective policing, he might start by looking in the mirror or, at least, reviewing his own conduct or lack of it.
Shouldn’t there have been a deeper, more widespread investigation into IPRA after the confidential documents were released in the Evans case? Police officers around the City claim IPRA investigations were wholly biased, and in bed with the local media. They complain that their due process rights are not observed, and that IPRA’s conclusions are arbitrary.
In his Sun-Times article, Ferguson cites the astonishingly low clearance rate for detectives. But he fails to acknowledge that many police officers and detectives are hesitant to be more aggressive for fear they too will be set up by overzealous city investigators.
Police officers complain year after year that they are subject to false allegations of wrongdoing, yet has Ferguson fought to have one person, just one, indicted for filing false allegations against the police?
Has Ferguson, or anyone in his department, confronted the growing evidence that false allegations often take the form of lawsuits that drag on for years, destroy the reputations of police officers and turn their lives into a Kafkaesque hell?
Has Ferguson confronted the cases now winding their way through the federal courts that allege a pattern of misconduct in the industry that includes suing police officers over allegations of wrongdoing?
Ferguson himself, or at least someone from his staff, is sitting in on these cases, documenting evidence that officers may have been falsely accused in high-profile wrongful convictions that have resulted in a killer or rapist going free?
In the few attempts Ferguson has claimed to conduct a legitimate investigation, his conclusions have often been met with ridicule. His investigation into police overtime is one example. When he claimed a culture of waste and abuse by police officers in collecting overtime, most officers rolled their eyes. Officers have been forced to work overtime throughout the past year because there aren’t enough cops in the city.
Alderman Anthony Napolitano had this to say in the Sun-Times about Ferguson’s overtime report:
“We don’t have enough officers. They’re working their butts off to try and save a city with a ridiculous crime rate. Now, we’re saying, `You’re stealing money from the city.’ Do you want them to make arrests? Do you want them to destroy crime, or don’t you? Pick one side or the other. Either tell them you want them to work hard and lock up the criminals, or tell them to go home when the bell rings.”
One minute police officers are overtime cheats abusing the system. The next they are not fighting crime enough. Can Ferguson even get his story straight?
No, he can’t. Ferguson has joined the chorus of talking-head police reformers who make claims whenever it is fashionable and suitable. The real problem when it comes to violent crime in Chicago is that the city is filled with so many opportunistic bureaucrats like Ferguson, for whom attacking the police and pandering to the media is the easiest way to advance one’s career.
Ferguson’s cheap shot at Chicago Police Officers, whom he has thrown under the bus and left exposed to the full weight of the crooked anti-police movement, is proof of it.