Just the facts, Chicago.
Various people are offering differing explanations of what we saw in a video of a group of police officers, including three supervisors, inside U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s South Side office on June 1 while protests and looting were taking place around the city.
What we need is not a rush to judgment, but a full and prompt compilation of all the facts.
FOP President John Catanzara disputes any claim the officers were sleeping on a couch, popping popcorn and drinking coffee in Rush’s burglarized office while nearby looters were clearing out other storefronts in the strip mall. He says the cops came there from a parking lot of a Home Depot store after other businesses in the area already had been looted.
But Mayor Lori Lightfoot has rejected assertions making the rounds on police blogs that the officers were told via cellphone to go to the office and guard it, either by the police chain of command or someone in the congressman’s office.
And Police Supt. David Brown said, “If you sleep during a riot, what are you doing during a regular shift when there’s no riot?”
The issue also led to some passionate back-and-forth discussion Wednesday at the City Council.
If the police officers broke into Rush’s office on their own when they should have been preventing vandalism, that would be a serious dereliction of duty.
But if they were sent there to protect the office after nearby businesses already had been looted, they were following instructions.
And if they were resting after a long day — as bad as that sleeping cop looks on the video — that might make sense if they knew they would be sent back on the streets within a few hours.
If they were there doing their jobs, the fact that they made themselves coffee and popcorn would not be a major issue.
All this could easily be established by examining police calls, interviews, reports, timelines and other data.
What Chicago doesn’t need is a probe that creeps along at a snail’s pace, as so many past investigations into police-related matters have. The rhetoric is already too intense.
Rush said the police were not invited to his office, and on Sunday he compared the FOP to the Ku Klux Klan. Rank-and-file officers cite past statements that they say show Rush is no fair-minded judge of the police.
Chicago should wait on the facts.
A full and prompt investigation will tell us whether the officers conducted themselves reasonably, following some kind of order, or were hiding from their jobs.
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