Buried among the facts and figures in the Justice Department’s recent book-length report on the failings of the Chicago Police Department was a telling statistic: The rate of suicide among CPD officers is 60 percent higher than other departments across the U.S.
Among the ranks of the nearly 10,000 patrol officers of the CPD, an average of three officers will take their own lives each year, according to life insurance claims information from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union representing the bulk of the department’s sworn officers.
In the past decade, 13 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Nearly twice as many officers died by their own hand during the same span.
Ron Rufo was a peer support counselor for most of his 21 years as a patrolman in the 9th District, volunteering to talk to his fellow officers at any scene where an officer was killed or injured. Rufo, who retired a little more than a year ago, estimates the number of his former peers who kill themselves each year could be double the FOP figure.
“There is a problem, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Rufo said. “Supervisors don’t talk about it. The rank-and-file don’t talk about it. And it’s like the administration does not want to admit it’s a problem.”
Police officers in Chicago have a uniquely difficult job, even among their big-city peers, said Alexa James, a psychologist who served on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force. The expert panel last spring also released a scathing report on the CPD, but James said the authors were aware that individual officers need more support.
“When you have 760 homicides in the city in a year, that’s a war zone — and that’s where [police] are working every day,” said James, who noted the total number of murders in Chicago last year was larger than the tally in Los Angeles and New York, combined.
“It is a hard, hard job, and police officers get very little support,” she said.
The CPD’s Employee Assistance Program, which provides mental health services to 13,500 police officers and staff, has only three full-time counselors. The Los Angeles PD, the next-largest department in the U.S., has a staff of 11 clinicians for less than 10,000 sworn officers.
The small number of counselors leads to a “triage” approach to counseling services, the DOJ report states, with those three staffers offering about 7,500 consultations in 2015 alone. The combination of a potential backlog for appointments and the typical cop’s reluctance to seek help for mental issues hasn’t made EAP popular.
“You can go there whenever you want and make appointments,” said a veteran officer in a West Side district. “I believe there’s only two therapists there, so what’s their availability?”
“Do people do it? I don’t know. If they do, they don’t talk about it. I’ve never, in 14 years on the job, ever heard more than one or two guys talk about going to EAP.”
Police officers in Illinois might be more reluctant to seek mental health treatment than their peers in other states because of a pervasive fear that seeking help could cost them their badge, said Marla Friedman, a suburban psychologist who specializes in treating law enforcement officers.
Illinois is one of a handful of states that permanently prohibits anyone who has been involuntarily committed to in-patient mental health treatment from getting a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. A permit to carry a gun is a job requirement for police officers, and many officers believe — wrongly — that they could lose their FOID card just for seeing a therapist, going on psychiatric medication or getting outpatient treatment, Friedman said.
“This is a real problem,” Friedman said. “Police officers are the only class of citizen in the U.S. who is going to lose their job for seeking mental health care.”
Friedman has lobbied for legislation to carve out an exemption to the FOID laws that would allow police to have their license to carry a weapon reinstated, even if they’d spent time in in-patient treatment.
She realizes there is significant resistance to changing laws to make it easier for anyone to own a gun after receiving serious psychiatric treatment, especially for police officers during a period when new video of police misconduct seems to surface every few months.
“But that’s the Catch-22,” Friedman said. Police “are afraid if they go to counseling, they’ll lose their job forever. But if they hold it in, they can stay on the job. And then they snap. Which [scenario] is safer?”
And for those not sympathetic to the emotional needs of police officers, officer suicides could be a bellwether for the kind of stress that leads to conduct by police that strains relations with the public, from a lack of empathy to large and small instances of brutality, James said.
James said creating a “culture of care” within the CPD, where supervisors are on watch for signs of depression or trauma — sudden drops in productivity, an increase in citizen complaints — would go a long way toward reducing police misconduct.
“We want police to be out there with the clearest head, we want people with a strong constitution,” she said. “Then, they can be thinking clearly in a job where they make quick decisions.”
A culture of care doesn’t exist in CPD, FOP President Dean Angelo said. Union leaders urged CPD brass to create a program to allow officers to take time off or an administrative assignment when they were feeling stressed or after a traumatic experience, Angelo said. The suggestion apparently morphed into the department’s new policy of putting officers involved in shootings on desk duty for a mandatory 30 days, a move Angelo said seems punitive to officers.
“We wanted an ‘administrative timeout,’ where you could go to your supervisor and say, ‘Hey, I need some time,’ and there would be a guarantee you could stay in your assignment and wouldn’t be ostracized,” Angelo said. “Guys need that guarantee, or they’re not going to talk.”
Officers need support to deal with trauma, not just when they’ve been involved in a shooting.
“We don’t put a notch on our gun when we shoot someone. It’s traumatic for the officer, but not everyone needs 30 days to deal with it,” Angelo said. “What about the guy that went to a domestic and saw a baby covered in roaches? Or who just buried his own kid.
“It’s a crazy-ass job,” he said. “You’re dealing with the crazy. You can’t be crazy.”
Article Org: Chicago.suntimes.com
The city Office of Inspector General, which earlier recommended the firing of 11 Chicago police officers in connection with the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, had proposed suspensions for four additional officers at the scene in 2014, according to its latest report. The quarterly report from IG Joseph Ferguson’s office, released Wednesday, didn’t identify the…
The Department of Justice’s sweeping report into the Chicago Police Department offers stark anecdotes of deadly force, including officers firing shots in residential neighborhoods, and “dangerous practices” like taking people into gang-rival territories to “display” them. To build the case that the police department has systemic problems, Justice Department investigators interviewed 1,000 city residents, as…
In perhaps the most damning, sweeping critique ever of the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded Friday that the city’s police officers are poorly trained and quick to turn to excessive and even deadly force, most often against blacks and Latino residents, without facing consequences.
The 164-page report, the product of more than a year of investigation, paints the picture of a department flawed from top to bottom, although many of the problems it cites have, for decades, been the subject of complaints from citizens, lawsuits by attorneys and investigations by news organizations.
Former Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy: DOJ didn’t even interview me for report
As such, the report is an indictment of sorts of city officials who, the report said, have paid lip service to the community’s complaints as well as the need for reform of the Police Department and the various city agencies responsible for its oversight.
Taken together, the Chicago Police Department’s flaws have “helped create a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use,” the Justice Department said in its report, made public Friday by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
In response to the federal investigation, Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to enter a court-enforced agreement with the Justice Department on a wide range of reforms, Lynch and other officials announced. While the report lauds some of the changes Emanuel has made to policing in recent months, it cautions that further reforms are needed and that real change is unlikely to last without outside monitoring.
What’s more, the report takes Emanuel to task for his efforts to get ahead of the report, saying some efforts have been insufficient.
For his part, the mayor continued to voice his backing of the federal investigation while at the same time insisting the report’s findings of systemic problems don’t portray most cops.
“The incidents described in this report are sobering to all of us,” he said. “Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in the city of Chicago, and those who break the rules will be held accountable for their actions. Misconduct not only harms the individuals affected, it damages the reputation of the Chicago Police Department.
“At the same time, it is important to recognize that the incidents of misconduct cited in this report do not represent the values of the city of Chicago. And I believe firmly they do not represent the good work of the vast majority of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department, I said it earlier, who put their lives on the line every day.”
At a news conference, Lynch said the department’s pattern of excessive force “is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems.”
“CPD does not give its officers the training they need to do their jobs safely, effectively and lawfully,” Lynch said. “It fails to properly collect and analyze data, including data on misconduct complaints and training deficiencies, and it does not adequately review use-of-force incidents to determine whether force was appropriate or lawful or whether the use of force could’ve been avoided altogether.”
All of these issues, she said, have led to “low officer morale and erosion of officer accountability.”
The investigation was launched after the court-ordered release of a video showing a white police officer shoot black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The incident became a flashpoint in police-community relations after Emanuel and city officials worked to keep the video from the public for about a year.
In its findings, the Justice Department was particularly critical of foot pursuits by officers — the subject of a recent Tribune investigation. The report said the foot chases too often end with unarmed individuals being shot. The Justice Department also faulted officers for shooting at vehicles without justification.
The report hammered hard at how officers fail to de-escalate tense situations, often resulting in shootings that were avoidable and unnecessarily endangered officers as well. The Justice Department ripped officials responsible for investigating police shootings and other uses of force for failing to hold officers accountable or issue meaningful discipline.
The report cited a pervasive “code of silence” that leads officers to lie to protect themselves and colleagues. Disciplinary authorities, in turn, have rarely brought cases against officers who lied, even when their statements were contradicted by video, while officers are almost never held accountable for even the worst shootings, it found.
Although the vast majority of the report was critical of the police, it also suggested that officers were victims of a sort — desperate for change but poorly served by a lack of training that often put them in harm’s way. Continue Reading
Article Org: chicagotribune.com
Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy blasted the Justice Department on Thursday, saying the feds have wrongly focused on whether officers have been stopping African-Americans disproportionately. McCarthy also blamed City Hall for “flipping over the table” on Chicago cops in 2016. On Friday, the Justice Department is expected to release findings of constitutional violations by…
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Over the weekend, Chicago police teamed up with state and federal officials to crack down on an explosion of violence in the city. The crackdown comes after an especially deadly October. Already this year, more than 680 people have been shot dead in Chicago. Police targeted three areas: Auburn-Gresham, Lawndale and Austin. A Chicago Police…
This Chicago Police training video gives the public a little insight into what type of situations Police Officers face every day on the Bloody streets of Chicago. The aim of the Chicago Police Department is to train more officers on how to save the lives of shooting victims they encounter on crime scenes across the city. Whether it is one of their own that has been shot or a Chicago resident this training aims to prepare officers to save more lives.
These two dash-cam videos from July 1st 2016 show a high-speed police chase that ended with a disastrous collision, between a Chicago police SUV and the fleeing suspects’ car.
The chase started on the ramp at Interstate 57 near 127th Street after a robbery at a business in Tinley Park. The Chase ended in a horrific crash at the corner of 124th Street and Union Avenue.
Two suspects died in the crash. They were identified as Jimmy Malone, 26, and Ronald Arrington, 22, of the 12400 block of South Union Avenue. Two other suspects were arrested and charged with robbery: Michael Cokes, 26, of Alsip and Isiah Stevenson, 24, of Matteson.
This video gives the public an inside look at just how dangerous it is being a cop in pursuit of violent criminals on the Bloody streets of Chicago.
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Chicago’s police chief on Friday released details of a proposed new policy that would require officers to use the least amount of force necessary and emphasizes the “sanctity of life.” The proposal requires officers to intervene if they see another officer violating department policy. Deadly force could only be used to prevent immediate threat of…
A city official says the Chicago Police Department will hire more than 500 to 1000 additional officers as it struggles to deal with the city’s uptick in gun violence. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is expected to announce the hires Wednesday. The official, who was briefed on the plan, spoke with The Associated Press on…
Former Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, a casualty of the fallout after the release of the video of the Laquan McDonaldshooting, said Monday the video never should have been made public while a criminal investigation was still under way. Addressing the City Club of Chicago, McCarthy said he was never asked for his recommendation on…
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A flashlight. A wrench. An L-shaped object under a towel. Even a Chicago Fire Department badge in a wallet. All allegedly have been mistaken for guns in recent cases in which people were shot by Chicago police officers who believed they were under threat, a Chicago Tribune investigation has found. At least 14 times since…