Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chicago Police Superintendent Fired

     Yesterday, Emma posted about the Black Friday protests (see post here) and mentioned that protesters were petitioning for the police superintendent to be fired. Today, that happened.

     To recap, a dashcam video surfaced online a week ago after a judge ordered it be released to the public. The video, recorded in October 2014, shows 17-year-old Laquan McDonald approaching squad cars while holding a knife but then veered away. Once turned, police officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald sixteen times, killing him. Since its release, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been under a lot of pressure. Most people were targeting his police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, but some are doubting his ability to lead as well. To answer the protesters (and possibly to reduce the criticism on himself), mayor Emanuel asked for a letter of resignation from McCarthy.

     The Chicago police force is being criticized in their handling of this case and is even being accused of trying to cover up misconduct. A manager who works at Burger King near the crime scene is claiming that police erased around 90 minutes of security camera footage that captured events leading up to the shooting. Also, although a similar one already exists, mayor Emanuel decided to create a second task force that would have oversight of police activity to prevent any further abuse of power. He justifies all of his actions stating that, "Superintendent McCarthy knows that a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves."

     Only last week was Officer Van Dyke charged with first-degree murder. He has been suspended from the Chicago Police Department but has left jail on a bail of $1.5 million.

What is your opinion on the following questions:
     - As police superintendent, should McCarthy have been fired, or officer Van Dyke? Both? Why?
     - This definitely is not the first recent case of police violence. Do you think that police violence is becoming a worsening problem or is only being more apparent?
     - Do you think Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the right actions?



Cecily Bohanek said...

Perhaps I am missing something, but it doesn't seem to me like the superintendent was directly involved in the murder. However, evidence does seem to lead to the top officials in the Chicago PD, so I believe that there is sufficient reason for the superintendent to be fired. Additionally, I believe the officer deserved what he got, and considering Chicago is a city steeped in violence, I believe Mayor Emanuel took the right measures to address the issue and prevent further harmful actions caused by this man. In my opinion, police brutality is one of the worst issues in America today. While I can't provide statistics or anything like that to prove your second question, from what I have seen it's not necessarily one or the other. It's definitely a problem that has gotten significantly worse, having so many murders in such a short amount of time, but it's also become more of a truly real issue because of the increase in awareness. Technology also plays an enormous part. Police used to be able to cover these things up swiftly and efficiently. But beginning with the Rodney King video in 1992, the power has shifted towards the public, and I believe everyone has a duty to film, prove, and fight injustice within the system whenever they see it – what do you think?

Alton Olson said...

I agree with Cecily - a big factor in the prevalence of police brutality today is technology. Today, we have smartphones, dashcams, and social media, so anybody can film police violence and share it with the public. We also have the technology to create body cameras that policemen can wear when on duty, which have been shown to reduce police violence rates in a number of studies. In the past, it seems that it was a lot harder to gather evidence in police violence cases, and other police officers at the scene of the crime would vouch for their colleagues, but it's much harder to suppress videos and evidence today.

I think that firing both the superintendent and Officer Van Dyke are correct options, but they won't fix the underlying problems in the Chicago PD. Two whistleblower police officers in Chicago came out about "widespread corruption" in the police force. Chicago police also have a long history of violence and police brutality, with evidence stretching as far back as the 1920s. The police department and the way officers are trained to respond to threats obviously has some deeper issues than just the ones related to these two men. I'm not sure how you would fix such a large problem, but I do believe that body cameras are one of the first steps. Maybe that's a question for someone else to answer.




Ryan Swan said...

I believe both McCarthy and Van Dyke should be fired. They're lucky that they didn't get a worse punishment. Any person who would be so cruel and evil to abuse their power to that extent does not deserve to protect and serve the people nor wear a badge. As for police violence, I do not believe it is occurring more often than it has in the past. The only reason I could think of why it appears more problematic than before is because of recent police violence provoking public outbursts and riots. These riots probably gained a lot of attention from the public which would lead to said acts of violence being recorded more often due to these happening being the more "hot" topics for news. As for the mayor, I think there is only so much he could do in this kind of situation. He was put in a very delicate and tight position where there wasn't too much for him to actually do in order to deal with the shooting. While he may have taken a few appropriate steps in facing this problem, I believe there is still more action for him to take in order to completely defuse the situation at hand.

Jared Mayerson said...

Thank you all for your comments! Cecily, I agree that it is a terrible and obvious problem that needs fixing. You're correct that he was not directly involved but it was his leadership that allowed for misconduct like that. Alton, you're completely right that this will not solve Chicago's problem but it is a step in the right direction. One thing I wonder is, should we fire every cop who has a negative job history or would this cause negative effects? Would a new group of abusive cops just replace them? Ryan, I agree that there is a lot more for mayor Emanuel to do. Do you believe that he is part of the problem?