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Police shooting on Red Line shouts that Chicago Police culture must change

It’s mind-boggling that this incident occurred within a day of the city’s announcement that it will redouble public safety efforts on the CTA.

This still image from cellphone video taken in the Grand Red Line station shows Ariel Roman clutching his face moments before a Chicago police officer opened fire on him.
This still image from cellphone video taken in the Grand Red Line station on Friday shows a man clutching his face moments before a Chicago police officer opened fire on him. Provided

I’m usually reluctant to comment on police incidents before all facts are known, but am troubled by the recent police shooting on the CTA Red Line, and feel it’s important to speak out.

Significant questions have been raised about police training, the quality of internal investigations and police culture in general.

In fact, it’s exactly one year ago that the Chicago Police Department began operating under federal oversight due to a consent decree issued by the Department of Justice.

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That scrutiny evolved from the Laquan McDonald shooting and cover-up by the CPD, which included findings of an apparent pattern and practice of police abuses of authority and the overuse of deadly force.

My concern about the Red Line incident is troubling on many levels.

The altercation occurred during afternoon rush hour with dozens of commuters passing within feet of the officers trying to physically subdue their suspect. The presence of innocent bystanders raises questions about the officers’ sense of judgment.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck both expressed concern about the incident and asked the Cook County state’s attorney office to investigate potential criminality on the part of the officers.

An independent video of the incident has circulated on the Internet, attracting national attention. While acknowledging that the video does not tell the whole story and should not be used to determine culpability, the FBI reportedly has been asked to investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

The officers’ conduct should be investigated thoroughly and without prejudice.

It’s mind-boggling that this incident occurred within a day of the city’s announcement that it will redouble public safety efforts on the CTA, while the police department continues to operate under federal scrutiny.

I know the mayor is sincere about her reform agenda. Lightfoot believes there is a mandate to change the culture of the CPD. I also believe the “transformative overhaul” of the department announced by Beck offers hope by laying a foundation for change over time.

However, changing organizational culture requires long-term buy-in from top to bottom.

If veteran leaders and those with the most experience fail to embrace change or re-training, then transformative change becomes increasingly difficult and problematic.

We should allow some space for Lightfoot and her leadership team to implement change. We must also all be vigilant as we demand and seek transparency, accountability and drops in the number of excessive force complaints as well as the number of officer-involved shootings.

Chicago should expect nothing less than an end to incidents like this Red Line shooting.

Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward Alderman

America’s democracy decline

What can one say about our beloved country doing well fiscally, but going to pot morally and spiritually?

Americans acknowledge that democracy is messy, cumbersome and slow to change, but what we are witnessing is a system on the decline.

This decline is due primarily to the election of President Donald Trump, who is woefully unfit for office and guided by ego, the pursuit of power and political ideology.

Racism has always been right below the surface and has reared its ugly head lately through the words and actions of Trump. His positions on other matters have alienated individuals, institutions and some of our closest allies.

The president’s actions have also led the United States to turn its back on those attempting to secure a better life for themselves and their families.

To add to this state of affairs is the silence on these matters on the part of Trump’s party and supporters. With their silence, they are acquiescing in the tearing down of the fabric of our democracy.

Ned L. McCray, Tinley Park