I was starting to feel a bit relieved after learning of El Chapo’s “restrictive” jail conditions because, well, he’s living right down the street. But I was quickly knocked out of my “law and order” stupor after reading one of the latest insane tweets by the lying orange man-baby currently running our nation. “If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on … I will send in the Feds!” Evidently having run out of words (a problem which has been apparent for awhile), he has taken to quoting TV show guests to express his deep thoughts. That said,
“There's a lot the federal government can do,” [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel said in the interview with WTTW. As examples, he cited federal help tracking illegal guns and prosecuting such cases, increased gun control and “help [paying for] additional police officers.”
And who wouldn’t agree with that? Not our political leaders, that's for sure.
There’s a need for better, safer policing everywhere. Not that more money is the only answer, but it certainly seems like a smart idea to increase police budgets to address the problem of stressed out, poorly trained and understaffed police (and corrections) departments, not to mention improved oversight over lawless psychopaths. Being “penny wise pound foolish” in this area is a terrible fiscal strategy because here’s what else it leads to: victims and lawsuits. This week’s news is a good example, starting with Chicago:
Chicago will pay $4.75 million in settlements in two cases stemming from police misconduct after the city council voted to approve the payments on Wednesday.
Shawn Whirl, who spent nearly 25 years in prison after being tortured into confessing a murder, was awarded a settlement of $4 million.
Whirl's compensation was the latest in a string of city payments linked to torture carried out by disgraced former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and those who worked under him, which have cost the city millions.
Burge, a police officer starting in 1970, and the detectives under his command were accused of forcing confessions from black suspects by using electric shocks from a homemade device, suffocation with plastic covers and mock executions.
Burge was fired in 1993 and later convicted of lying about police torture in testimony he gave in civil lawsuits.
Also in Illinois, “A lawsuit alleging the state’s parole revocation process was unconstitutional was settled Wednesday.”
[Alexa Van Brunt, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs and an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law], said the settlement hits the heart of the state’s mass incarceration issue.
“Making sure the process is fair and people who are [in jail or prison] actually have violated the terms of their parole or they’re actually there for a valid reason will get at the heart of a serious problem of incarceration in this state,” Van Brunt said. …
Van Brunt said the state has now nine months to get funding and attorneys for parolees who qualify based on the settlement and added an independent monitor will be implemented to make sure the settlement deal is implemented and complied with.
Meanwhile in Kansas City,
“Jackson County will pay $275,000 to settle a negligence claim apparently arising out of a sexual assault that occurred Aug. 26 in the Jackson County Detention Center in downtown Kansas City.… Authorities previously reported that two women said they were assaulted in the downtown jail on Aug. 26, both as a result of security lapses caught on video.”
And in New York City, the NYPD, which is “facing questions about whether it will make public the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings against the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in 2012, signaled on Wednesday that it was taking steps to disclose the punishment of officers charged with misconduct.” At issue is a state law, which “shields personnel records of police officers, firefighters and correction officers from public scrutiny, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration recently expanded its interpretation of the law to cover disciplinary records.” Writes the New York Times,
The case poses a significant challenge for [NYPD] Commissioner O’Neill, who on Wednesday gave a speech in Manhattan highlighting his signature crime-fighting initiative, neighborhood policing, which relies on bridging a trust gap between the police force and many communities whose residents are predominantly black and Latino. For the program to work, its critics and supporters have said, the Police Department has to hold officers accountable for abuses and misconduct.
If you think accountability isn't the right "law and order" message, remember that law enforcement abuses and misconduct are a huge waste of money - so maybe think of it that way.