Imagine starting every day with a shot of caffeine from a symbol that reflects how the Chicago Police Department views its duty to 'serve and protect'
BY DAN VUKELICH
If you thought the Albuquerque Police Department has a “culture of aggression” — killing 30 people since 2010, most of them unarmed — you ain’t seen nothin’.
I was at a family gathering near Chicago at which we all were asked to buy some inexpensive gifts for the grab-bag Christmas present opening. One of the presents opened was a Chicago Police Department ceramic mug with, well, the official star of the Chicago Police Department and a handle fashioned out of what I can best tell is supposed to be a Glock.
As a former Chicago crime reporter, I immediately wanted it. But then I thought, there is nothing like it in the APD’s online “police store.” I guess that says something good about our particular violence-prone police department — relatively speaking.
Imagine starting every day with a shot of caffeine from a symbol that reflects how the Chicago Police Department views its duty to “serve and protect.”
As people continue to die by police gunfire in Chicago — most recently a mentally disturbed college student with a baseball bat and a neighbor woman who made the mistake of standing near him while waiting for the police to arrive — am I crazy in imaginging that this mug is a statement of something deeply wrong?
I’ve been following the Chicago coverage from 1,700 miles away and noted that in the tapes of the shooting of Laquan McDonald, a 911 dispatcher plaintively put out repeated radio calls for someone, anyone, with a Taser in the vicinity to please respond.
No one did, and one of the first backup cops to respond exited his vehicle, and within seconds he pumped 16 rounds at a perp with a knife who was walking away from him.
So, here we are in li’l old Albuquerque, struggling in our own way of fixing our own flawed police department’s culture of aggression, trying to comply with the U.S. Justice Department’s insistence that our police department stop killing people, and, hey, it turns out we’re years ahead of Chicago.
While we struggle with demands by the DOJ that we return to community policing, proper training of crisis intervention teams, and use of non-lethal bean-bag shotgun rounds and Tasers, a major American city’s police department continues to race to 911 calls and kill people — sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose.
Dan Vukelich is editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org