EDITORIAL: 71 shot, and no arrests? Chicago pays high price for police mistrust
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Rudy Giuliani should sit the heck down.
We’d put that in stronger terms, but this is a family newspaper.
Giuliani doesn’t know a thing about what really happened during Chicago’s terrible weekend of gun violence — hence his pants-on-fire, irresponsible lies on Twitter that inflated by more than 50 the number of murders.
It’s a nightmare enough that 12 people were killed, dozens more wounded, and families, friends and neighborhoods are traumatized and grieving. If Giuliani cared about our city, he might bother to get his facts right.
That said, Giuliani’s Twitter idiocy is the least of Chicago’s worries right now. Because as we write this editorial, not a single suspect has been arrested in any of last weekend’s 37 shooting incidents. Not a one. Killers are walking around scot-free. The Chicago Police Department’s miserably low homicide clearance rate, 17.5 percent, won’t be improving anytime soon.
CPD says it has leads in some of the shootings, but nothing more, and that failure undoubtedly is due in part to the fractured relationship between cops and civilians in Chicago’s African-American community. A distrustful community is not a forthcoming community, not when tipping off the police can bring real danger.
Now more than ever, our city must repair the breach between the police and civilians. No one in Chicago should fear going to a block party and not coming home safe.
To get there, Chicago must vigorously enforce the newly drafted consent decree to reform the police department. Get reform right, and get there fast. Tie up the loose ends in the draft decree’s 232 pages and get moving.
CPD must find a way to regain a city’s trust. It must convince all of us, whether we live in Roseland or Rogers Park, that officers are indeed there to “protect and serve.”
The hard truth is that the law-abiding residents of some Chicago neighborhoods legitimately fear retaliation if they talk to cops. When a witness takes that risk, they have to feel sure the police will protect them. But as things stand now, they often fear just the opposite — the cops will put a target on their back.
Consider the recent experience of one longtime resident of Gresham who told the police about a crime he had witnessed. The officers, he told the Sun-Times, “put me in front of the people I called the police on … I was scared and just pretended not to know what they were talking about.”
Solving crimes is a two-way street, and all Chicagoans should do what they can to help the cops. Even an anonymous call can lead to the arrest of some fool who has shot into a peaceful crowd.
Make that call.
But there is no doubt that a deep lack of trust works against such cooperation.
Ultimately, as we’ve said time and again, the answer to Chicago’s violent crime problem won’t be found only in better police work. It will be found in a more just society. Neighborhoods need better schools. Young black men need jobs. People who were born up against it need a reason to believe.
That sort of thinking should guide City Hall as it builds a new police and firefighter training facility, as contemplated, in East Garfield Park. Done right, it could be a source of jobs for young men on the shattered West Side. It could be a meeting ground. It could be a cornerstone for better community relations.
Rudy Giuliani doesn’t give a damn about Chicago. But we, the people who live here, do.
We can do this.
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