In Response • CPD Police Chief's Rhetoric Is Dangerous & Irresponsible
In a year marked by shooting deaths of various types, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson took an opportunity last week to establish a dangerous narrative in the wake of an arrest that left one officer with bruises and cuts to her face and neck. Referring to the situation in which an officer did not discharge her weapon out of a fear of public outcry, Johnson pointed to what he called 'The Ferguson Effect' as a reason for the reluctance of some officers to gun down citizens. What he failed to realize in his comments was that the narrative he's writing by suggesting that an officer who thinks twice about killing an unarmed civilian is wrong does nothing to reverse the issue of trust between Police and community that is continuing to spiral out of control.
In the wake of dozens of police-involved shootings that have littered headlines throughout 2016, Johnson's comments come as an ignorant and biased glance at a situation that resulted in no deaths. Sure, the officer involved is likely suffering from bruises, cuts and a headache that'll likely last her through the week, but she does so with a clean conscious and without having murdered another human senselessly out of 'fear'. You see, Johnson seems to have forgotten the basic tenant of being a police officer. Yes, they have guns and tasers and weapons of all sizes and shapes thanks to unruly spending from the U.S. government, the idea though is actually not to use them. It's a shame that a police officer here in Chicago was attacked, it's terrible that a female officer is now spending time in the hospital in serious condition, but it's also a part of the job she signed up for. No one was killed, two officers quickly came to ___'s aid and arrested the suspect who will be alive to serve whatever sentence he's deserved. What seems to be forgotten is that police officers are not meant to be judge, jury and executioner. Rather, they're meant to deal with the things and situations we as average citizens don't have or want to. In Great Britain, the police have no guns and have operated fine for generations. Here, the idea of a club or even hand-to-hand contact scares officers so much that they'd rather pull a trigger and murder the person in front of them, regardless of guilt or innocence.
That's the mentality that Johnson embodied at least in his speech to reporters earlier this month in which he said, "As I was at the hospital last night, visiting with her, she looked at me and said she thought she was gonna die and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to, because she didn't want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news. This officer could have lost her life. … We have to change the narrative of the law enforcement across this country." Currently, the narrative of policing in America seems to be shoot first and ask questions later, a sentiment that Johnson seemed to support in his statements to the press. In that way, he continues to prove himself not a step forward from the deposed McCarthy, but simply another pawn in the ongoing game City Hall plays with the rest of us.
To pretend like policing in the United States of America isn't hitting a point of critical mass is to ignore the many deaths of civilians that began out of the fear of an armed officer. It's to ignore the fact that in a year that has seen soaring police-involved shootings and ever more outspoken protests, the CPD and Fraternal Order of Police decided to publicly announce their support of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. A force in need of a serious public relations facelift instead doubles down on a losing sentiment, true to their chosen dictator.
In the video released by police from the incident, the officer is surrounded by fellow cops, paramedics and an ambulance are on the scene within minutes. It's a far-cry from the dragging of Freddie Gray's lifeless body or the dozen rounds emptied into Laquan McDonald the pre-empted medical attention in those cases and many like them. Sure, it is awful that a police officer was hurt in the line of duty. But, just like we're upset but not surprised when a firefighter is hurt in a fire, neither should we use an officer, meant to protect and serve citizens, who is injured in the line of duty as a prop to propel political inclinations. It's dangerous, it does nothing to solve the problem and acts as an opportunity to further divide the people and those tasked with "keeping them safe".