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Why Let 662 Bad Apples Spoil the Whole Damn Bunch?

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 18, 2007 3:28PM

2007_07_redacted.jpgWe aren't naive. We know the police protect and serve, that it's a largely thankless task, and recognize their achievements when we can. Overall, though, this hasn't been a good year for the Chicago Police Department, public relations-wise.

So if there were a list of the bad seeds in existence, wouldn't you want to know the names? Wouldn't you know who's out there perverting their oath to protect and serve? Judge Joan Lefkow thinks so. Last week she ordered the city to release a list of 662 officers with more than 10 official complaints filed against them in the last five years, an order the city has been fighting tooth-and-nail.

Yesterday the Mayor's office released the list to aldermen, but in a bullshit move redacted the names of the officers. The list, which was compiled by attorneys for a woman accusing the CPD of abuse in 2003, was released two days before an important City Council vote on the way police misconduct claims are investigated. If passed, the measure under discussion will require the Office of Professional Standards to report directly to His Elective Majesty, summaries of investigations would become public record, and OPS investigators would receive subpoena power. The release of the lined-up list only adds fuel to speculation that the measure will only tighten the flow of information to the public in police misconduct cases to even more of a "need to know" basis while keeping the "thin blue line" intact.

To be fair, the number on that list might be an inflated number, given the penchant of individuals to look for a quick buck in a litigious society to file complaints against an policeman who's just doing his or her job. Where there's smoke, however, there's fire. And 10 or more complaints indicates a pattern for some to act outside the boundaries of his oath. The sheer number of officers this list breaks down to one of every 20 cops in the 13,200-strong force. Five percent of the force is still too large a number, when the citizens the police serve should be demanding zero tolerance for unprofessional behavior. The list also indicates that some officers have more than 30 complaints against them, with no significant punishment handed down to them, who still have their jobs. Have we learned nothing from the actions of Jon Burge and the like?

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