The Visions Of Lori Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot apparently doesn’t like the FOP’s vision of crime and policing in Chicago.
The president of the Chicago Police Board, the agency that decides whether to fire officers accused of wrongdoing, is apparently angry that the Fraternal Order of Police filed charges last week with the Illinois Labor Relations Board against the city. In their petition, the FOP demands that the city cease imposing a new Use of Force policy that would, in the minds of most police officers, drastically undermine a police officer’s rights and safety on the job.
In a Sun-Times article last week, Lightfoot assailed the charges filed by the police union, saying “They seem to be mired in a vision that the current state of affairs of policing in Chicago simply doesn’t exist.”
The FOP seems to be mired in a vision that doesn’t exist?
Whoa. Wait a minute.
Polls indicate that Lightfoot’s incessant claims of the need for police reform are not foremost on the minds of most Americans. Police officers know that most people in the city and around the country want to see more police officers and more police action taken against criminal gangs.
In fact, concern about violent crime is higher now than in the last decade, according to a 2016 Gallup poll:
Americans' level of concern about crime and violence is at its highest point in 15 years. Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say they personally worry "a great deal" about crime and violence, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2014. This figure is the highest Gallup has measured since March 2001.
The image of Chicago throughout the country is not that of a police department out of control. Quite the contrary. For most people around the country, including President Trump, the common vision of Chicago is a city mired in violent crime, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, and a political establishment unwilling to take the necessary steps to combat it.
Where does Lori Lightfoot fit in that paradigm?
Given Chicago’s crime rate, the decision to create a new policy that will likely make policing more difficult might seem ludicrous to the rest of the country, and certainly to police officers.
Chicago’s crime rate suggests that it is Lightfoot and Chicago’s other police “reformers,” and not the FOP, whose “visions” are skewed.
In her attack on the FOP, Lightfoot fails to even get the facts straight. “The notion that they didn’t have a seat at the table is patently false,” she rails.
Really? As the city weighed changes to policies, the FOP submitted some five pages of suggestions. The city only grudgingly accepted one of them. So the FOP does, in fact, attempt to negotiate in good faith, as it has from the beginning of the Graham administration.
Lightfoot’s “vision” of crime and police corruption has taken a beating in other ways, as well. The Department of Justice report on the CPD under the Obama administration is being taken as a kind of Holy Grail for both the anti-police movement in Chicago and the media. Every article cites the report with adjectives like “scathing,” using it to justify new police oversight policies.
Virtually nobody pointed out that the DOJ’s finding that the Chicago police was guilty of a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional force was done with no actual standards for what constitutes a “pattern or practice.” The term comes from a 1994 federal statute. Nor did most of the media point out that this finding was not based on any statistical evidence whatsoever.
“Statistical evidence is not required” for a “pattern or practice” finding, the DOJ said. Nor were any “specific number of incidents” required to constitute a “pattern or practice.”
A better name for the DOJ’s method would be called “cherry picking.” Merriam Webster defines that term as “to select the best or most desirable.”
Nor did most of these talking heads bother to comment on the fact that the DOJ under Obama clearly rushed to finish the report before Trump’s administration took shape, a sign that their DOJ’s report was as much as political statement as a legal one.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed the findings in the report as unscientific and anecdotal.
And the DOJ investigations in other cities that resulted in consent decrees, what happened to them? Well, Sessions condemned them.
From the LA Times:
On April 4, Sessions announced that his Justice Department would review all “existing or contemplated” police consent decrees. In a radio interview, he argued that they “push back against [officers] being on the street in a proactive way,” because they “reduce morale.” Consequently, he said, cities under consent decrees have “seen too often big crime increases.”
More than likely Lightfoot didn’t like Sessions’ vision of the justice system any more than she liked the FOP petition with the Illinois Labor Board.
Whether Lightfoot likes it or not, the appropriate way for the city to iron out the vying visions of policing in the city is sitting at the negotiating table across from the FOP.
A lot may be riding on it.