Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Culture of Not Snitching

So Police Chief Weis is lamenting the "code of silence" in the community, and that there is not a "sense of community and civic urgency" to share information with police, as an important reason behind the lack of quick resolution to crimes, particularly Fenger High beatings. Of course people in the community ask the critical question, "what have the police done to earn our trust?".

Shuffling officers into and out of impoverished neighborhoods, where their only focus is on maintaining the peace, often by any means necessary, does practically nothing to develop the kind of relationship that engenders trust and confidence from the people in those communities. And then you add to that the infamous "Blue line" of silence . . . you could almost say the police invented the code of silence. Certainly they enforce that code more tightly than any other structured organization.

As Chief Weis has settled into his position I've noticed him becoming the "Apologist in Chief" as much as anything. Only the most egregious police offense has caused him to sway from that position . . . oh, egregious and caught on tape. I've known enough police in my life to know that many are dedicated to their jobs, and the idea of service to the community. I also know that the vast majority of good police get tainted by the odor of corruption and brutality of the few, when they excuse it and fail to report it. The fact that the Chicago Police Department refuses to release reports of officers abuse accusations, is a testament to the effectiveness of the blue wall of silence.

Until a noticeable and obvious shift in community policing standards and tactics is implemented, one where community relationships are viewed as important and measurable components on an officer's career track record, I'm afraid people will continue to view them with understandable suspicion and often outright disdain. I wish this were not the case, but wishing won't make it go away . . . and neither will words without action.

What do you think?

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