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Houston We Have a Problem

Image: PV Bella

Monday, June 21, was the deadliest day in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. The death toll keeps rising. Violent crimes are spreading all over the city- murder, mayhem, robberies, carjackings, burglaries, and other crimes. People no longer feel safe on the streets, beaches, downtown, or in the hospitality and entertainment areas.

Suburbanites and exurbanites will stop visiting out of fear. Tourism will drop. Locals will stay in their neighborhoods. The cultural institutions will also take a hit.

Business and tax revenues will shrink. The city may as well lockdown again as it did during the pandemic.

Before I retired from the Chicago Police Department, family, friends, neighbors, and others would tell me how safe they felt in the city. After I retired, things started deteriorating slowly. Now, it is at the point where I do not feel safe. No matter where I go, I am hyper-vigilant.

If I, a former cop, do not feel safe, then “Houston, we have a problem.”

The reason people felt safe was the way police superintendents handled the press. They assured the people the citizens were protected, no matter how strident or goofy the mayors sounded when asked. However, the superintendents also knew when to take the gloves off, increase the pressure on crime, and when to back down. It was a delicate balancing act.

The police brass knew how things worked because they were all from Chicago. They knew the city, the neighborhoods, and the communities. They worked these streets.

The deterioration started when the city brought outsiders in to run the police department. First, it was a retired FBI agent. The FBI is very good at what they do- investigations. They know little to nothing about policing. He did not last long, but the damage was done.

Now, we have a superintendent from Dallas, Texas, the equivalent of an urban suburb. He is far out of his league. He is like a kid riding a bike for the first time without training wheels. He weebles and wobbles, trying not to fall.

Worse, if there is a worse, the city leaders are captured by the social justice activists. Some are captivated by them, drooling and salivating like hormonally charged teenagers over a celebrity. If the city tries to take the gloves off and increase the pressure, the celebrity activists cry racism and “unleash the dogs of war”- mass protests. Just the threat of mass protests has the city and business community quaking in their boots.

Crime and violence are out of control. The police department is overworked and over-stressed, with days off canceled and working 12 hour days. Groups formed to help officers with families to run errands, provide childcare, and do other things. Others are donating money to provide meals to or cook at police stations. While all this is admirable, it does not take the stress off of an over-stressed department.

Overworking cops is a recipe for disaster. Aside from the health, family, and social issues, the added stress of long days and weeks takes a toll. In addition, tired and stressed cops are more prone to injury and anger issues. Those are just two symptoms of stress. Add to that the stress of not being allowed to do the job they were trained to do, there will be adverse outcomes for all involved.  No one benefits, not the citizens or the police.

By July, it is estimated that 500 police officers will have retired or resigned this year. If the retirements and resignation pace keeps up, the department will be woefully understaffed. This will put more stress on the police and the public.

As they said in the 1960s, it is going to be a long hot summer. It does not appear the violence, murder, and mayhem will abate. But, unfortunately, there is no political will to change the dynamic. Chicago and its politicians went from being a city of scoundrels to a city of cowards.

The new motto should be, I  won’t.

Published inUncategorized