The vast majority of Chicago Police officers are hard working, law-abiding citizens who have worked diligently to keep law and order on our side.
Chicago’s violent crime rate is at an all-time low, and we’ve made a lot of progress in the area of police and community relations. To protect these gains we must take notice of unfortunate stories like the recent charges against multiple officers in the department’s elite Special Operations Section (SOS). This citywide unit seizes guns, drugs, and offers other valuable services, such as the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). They also man the Canine Unit, Marine Unit and serve as a mobile emergency response force to meet immediate demands for manpower at disasters, civil disorder and other unforeseen incidents.
We cannot let the self-aggrandizement through criminal activity of a few errant police officers destroy our progress. We must also continue to reinforce the need for police to treat all Chicagoans with respect and dignity, have zero tolerance for racial profiling, and for physical and verbal abuse. I am pleased to see that new management practices were implemented since 2004 when this incident took place.
I am encouraged to learn that this misconduct was discovered and investigated by the Internal Affairs Division of the Chicago Police Department while working with the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. The SOS. unit of the police department must be held accountable. I also feel there are two important issues we must seriously consider:
1. It is imperative that the community has confidence in the disciplinary system, and we must explore strategies to accomplish this goal. We must re-examine the complaint review process set in place by the Office of Professional Standards and how to improve upon it. We must take a hard look at incorporating civilian participation and the benefits it may have on both the community and the police Department.
2. We must also re-examine the disciplinary policies as it relates to the rank-and-file of the department. While I believe police are entitled to due process, there is a need for supervisory personnel to have the ability to render discipline when needed in a timely manner.
I strongly believe that discipline can change behavior. We cannot let the actions of a few tarnish the stars of the overwhelming majority of good Chicago police officers who risk their lives everyday to improve the quality of life of all Chicagoans.
We have come too far to let the good work and positive relationships erode as a result of a few bad apples, and we must take action. I will continue to work with the superintendent of police to make Chicago the safest big city in the nation, and the Chicago Police Department one that all Chicagoans can be proud of.
Isaac S. Carothers
29th Ward Alderman, and Chairman of the Committee on Police & Fire