Shoot First, Ask Questions Later?
By Alicia Dorr in News on Jun 14, 2006 10:43PM
Chicago residents with any sort of institutional memory shouldn't be surprised by the news, but it still upsetting to hear, officially, that this city beats out New York AND L.A. for the highest rate of police shootings. It's not the kind of list we want to be topping.
Department officials "caution" the accuracy of the numbers (of course), but, right or wrong, CPD cops have been involved in 20 shootings this year. Some of the situations seem a little better than others, like when police tell armed robbers to drop their weapons and they don't. But for every one of those there are reports that might leave even the least cynical person a little skeptical, like when a man runs at several officers with one knife and they riddle him with bullets. And that, at least, is not an exaggeration; Nine of the 20 people died. Add to that the fact that 20 shootings is actually better compared to last year, when there were 29 shootings in the same time period - and even more in other years - and the force starts to appear a little trigger-happy.
Activists and other citizens who are vocal against police brutality say that's just it - Chicago's police force may not be under Richard J. Daley anymore, but the same "shoot to kill" (ahem, "maim") policy that he used might not be dead. Whether the anti-gun or anti-brutality people are right or wrong, that's the problem - people are dead. The CPD explanation is fair - basically that the officers are defending themselves in these situations against possibly violent criminals with weapons. Then again, fair? We could go all night about the ratio of blacks and latinos on the other side of their guns, but maybe fair isn't the only question. We're wondering if it's right.