Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said crime in the city has been on the rise in the last couple of months thanks to the ripple effects of the events in Ferguson, as he believes Chicago cops are afraid to do their jobs because they don’t want to make national headlines.
“They don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact,” Emanuel said at a press conference in Washington D.C. “Officers themselves are telling me about how the news over the last 15 months impacted their instincts: Do they stop or do they keep driving?”
The mayor later doubled down on his opinion in comments to the Chicago Tribune.
“What happened post-Baltimore, what happened post-Ferguson is having an impact,” Emanuel said. “And I still believe recent events over the last year or 18 months have had an impact. And officers will tell you that. And I tried to speak up for the good officers that are doing community policing that make up the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.”
Way Off Point
Emanuel’s take on crime is an awful line of thinking, almost akin to victim blaming. Heaven forbid we hold people accountable for their actions.
The mayor said the push to hold police accountable for their actions has caused them to go “fetal.” The goal is not to make officers stop policing altogether, but to simply make them realize that more people are taking note of their actions, and they should conduct themselves within the lines of their code of conduct.
It’s like when your boss or your regional manager comes in for a visit. Everyone needs to be on their best behavior, but nobody would blame a drop in sales on the fact that their boss was watching. Yet that’s what Emanuel is doing here.
But do the statistics even back up Emanuel’s opinion? Let’s take a look. Here’s a look at the change in crime rates in Chicago over the last few years.
- 2010 – 5.1 percent increase in crime (from 2009)
- 2011 – 13.1 percent decrease
- 2012 – 28.5 percent increase
- 2013 – 16.4 percent decrease
- 2014 – 3.4 percent decrease
- 2015 – 11.3 percent increase
Crime seems to go in waves, so the increase in 2015 after two straight years of falling crime rates isn’t unexpected.
Additionally, it’s not like Chicago police officers were perfect before we put their actions under the spotlight. An analysis of five years of data released one month before Ferguson revealed that 662 Chicago police officers had at least 10 misconduct complaints leveled against them since 2009. In fact, Chicago paid out $54.2 million to settle cases of police misconduct in 2014 alone. If we didn’t put the police under a microscope, we’d be doing an injustice to every taxpaying citizen.
In the end, police do a great job. It takes guts to do what they do on a daily basis, but it’s not wrong for citizens to ask for them to stay within the lines of what’s legal. After all, that’s exactly what they ask of us!