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When demotion threats replace steady leadership at CPD, something is very wrong

The Chicago Police Department faces tough limits. What’s left is a beleaguered, fatigued, low-morale department that needs all the support leaders can muster.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, listens as Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks to reporters at a press conference at Chicago Police Headquarters on Jan. 4, 2022.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, listens as Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks to reporters at a press conference going over violence prevention in 2022 at Chicago Police Headquarters on Jan. 4.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

I do not speak for the rank-and-file of the Chicago Police Department, but I do know hundreds of officers, both active and retired. My wife and I served and protected the city of Chicago for decades. Active cops are not allowed to speak out, but hearing that police have been threatened with demotions unless more murders are solved and more arrests are made requires, I believe, a sensible response.

Last year, some 12,000 guns were confiscated by the department. That’s a record, at least since my days on the job starting in the 1960s. What happens to arrested offenders is not in the hands of cops, of course. The prosecutors and courts decide their fate.

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I wonder if the mayor and her top cop have given any thought to the limitations placed on Chicago’s cops. Those limitations include limited car chases, limited foot chases, an almost nonexistent stop-and-frisk policy (after entering into an agreement with the ACLU back in 2015) and the institution of a time-consuming investigatory stop report that immediately reduced street stops by as much as 80%.

It’s no secret the department has been significantly reduced in numbers both by retirements and officers seeking other employment. The last police class that graduated from the academy a few weeks ago netted 13 new officers, a woeful wake-up call for those who are paying attention.

Chicago’s cops are now being taken from specialized units and assigned to districts to make up for severe shortages in the neighborhoods. What’s left after all this is a beleaguered, fatigued, low-morale department that needs all the support leaders can muster instead of threats to ranking officers.

Police work is unique in that the lowest person in the ranks makes the most important decisions: Shoot or don’t shoot, arrest or don’t arrest, detain or don’t detain. Those decisions reverberate up to the command ranks. When threats of demotion replace steady leadership, something is very, very wrong.

Bob Angone, retired Chicago Police lieutenant, Austin, Texas

I agree with CTU, for now

The virus is pretty hot right now and easily transmitted to even the vaccinated. That poses a problem for adult school teachers. So, I think, remote teaching just might be OK for now.

But I think teachers should report to their classrooms every day and spend the entire day there teaching students remotely from their assigned classrooms. Those who do not show up are not paid and risk dismissal. There should be minimal risk if the teacher is the only person in the room, especially after the School Board spent so much money on ventilation and sanitizing.

John Laskey, Palos Heights