The Chicago Police Department appears to have embraced the gang culture which permeates much of the city. This apparent code of silence surrounding the Chicago men in blue has ignited the community and alerted the Department of Justice of the need to intervene. The men in blue have embraced a culture of learned and socially transmitted customs and behavior of expectations about how people in the community should act in relation to law enforcement. Reportedly, people fear the men in blue more than they fear the high volume of gang activity dominating Chicago’s streets.
As with any organization, there are officers who have taken their oath to serve and protect seriously and are truly interested in positive change within the city. The problem is a large group of members within this “secret society” share common beliefs, language, and values. Just as in traditional gangs, members hold specific statuses and are expected to fulfill the designated roles. The Chicago Police Department has long been at odds with the community. The Chicago men in blue have a history of violations; between 2004 and 2013 they reportedly paid more than $500 million in police settlements.
The culture of gangs often revolves around violence. It is a culture of physical assaults with tasers, knives, bats, guns and anything else that can be used to protect themselves or gain the advantage over others. Arguably, the Chicago Police Department has embraced this gang culture.
In 2015, according to the New York Times, more than 99 percent of all complaints from civilians against Chicago men in blue have resulted in no disciplinary action to the accused officer. Civilians filed over 28,000 complaints against the CPD between 2011 and 2015. During this time, 97 percent of the complaints resulted in no action taken. The officer who killed Laquan McDonald, firing 16 shots at the victim, was previously the subject of at least 18 complaints from civilians but had never received any discipline.
It is no secret that gangs are a part of society overall and Chicago at large. However, it now appears that the street gangs have become a mini-society or subculture of the larger group of Chicago men in blue. It is a sad day when citizens are afraid of an organization whose mission statement reads as follows:
The mission of the Chicago Police Department is to protect life and liberty, provide quality police services, and forge community partnerships with integrity and professionalism.
As opposed to protecting and forging partnerships with the community that the CPD should be serving, the code of silence has instead secured a great deal of reprehensible behavior which has largely been directed at Chicago’s African-American population. The city’s police department has a long history of failing to hold its officers accountable, especially within the black community. This bully inflicted operation ring is reflective of one that embraces a gang culture.
The police department assigned to govern Chicago also operates an off-the-books interrogation compound which, according to lawyers, is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. This nondescript facility is a warehouse on the west side of the city known as Homan Square. It has long been the home of secretive work by special police units. Victims who have been taken to the facility have complained of being denied access to basic constitutional rights “while unjustly held hostage.” However, the CPD has denied that Homan Square was home to any unusual or illegal behavior.
Until the gang-styled culture has been dismantled and a true desire to serve and protect the community is reinstituted, the state of the city will not change. Due to the code of silence instituted within the Chicago Police Department, citizens have been treated unjustly and police brutality continues as if on steroids. It is a sad day when people fear the men in blue more than the high volume of gang activity which permeates Chicago neighborhoods.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The New Yorker: Bad Cops, Good Cops
Huffington Post: Here’s Evidence The Chicago PD Is Worse Than You Thought
Truth Out: Hollow Reforms and Growing Outrage in Chicago Policing Scandal
The Free Thought Project: Chicago Cops Frantically Fight to Destroy Misconduct Records Before Homan Square Investigation
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