Highway Road Runner

Highway Road Runner
Riding the Dragon - US Hwy 129

2010-07-19

A City at War With Itself: Chicago - Fast Tracking To Anarchy (Understanding the Organizational Paralysis of the CPD and the Mission to Recovery)


A City at War with Itself : Chicago - Fast Tracking to Anarchy
Understanding the Organizational Paralysis of the CPD and the Mission to Recovery
(updated)

Everyone in Chicago knows it. Almost everyone in America knows it. In fact, a lot of people throughout the world know. Chicago is a city at war with itself - fast tracking to anarchy.

Leading us there have been two major root causes - public violence and public corruption. While Chicago has been under attack with its people fearful and hiding, its police department was twisted into paralysis by organizational decimation, incompetent leadership, self-serving politics and corruption.

After three dead cops in less than 60 days, the men and women of the Chicago Police Department are saying, "Enough!!!" We are sickened that our world-class police department has deteriorated into ruin in only a few short years. We are tired of a leaderless department. We are angry at an unsupportive mayor.

We must rise up together to take this city back from the thugs, gangs and rogues that infect our city. The good people of Chicago must also take a stand against the corrupt politicians and their cronies that have bled our city and police department dry.

We must not be stopped. We will not be deterred. We will not be corrupted. Our mission is clear. We must return Chicago to its peaceful, law-abiding citizens. We cannot fail!

Public Violence

Homicides, shootings and gang related crimes are sucking the life out of this city. Daily, people are shot and killed on our streets over conflicts with gangs and drugs. Our children are not immune from the victimization as they too are targets or suffer as collateral damage from stray gunfire.

Most horrific for Chicago is that in less than 60 days, Chicago has lost 3 of its police officers, killed by gunfire as victims of robberies. It seems no one is safe in our city anymore.

Chicago's homicide rate this year currently stands toe-to-toe with the total number of military forces killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thugs, gangs and renegade groups run the streets and neighborhoods, intimidating and victimizing the decent citizens of this city. They go mostly unchallenged and unchecked by a totally demoralized police force that is dangerously understaffed and still out-gunned on the streets.

Public Corruption

The continued participation in public corruption activities appears to be much more important to Chicago's power elite than addressing the public safety dilemmas of its citizens.

While public corruption has always been a problem in Chicago, it seems to have become more overt than ever. It is amazing how politicians and the "connected ones" can act so openly now and with such impunity.

Political Corruption within the Police Department

A recent example of alleged political corruption ties to top tier leadership in the Chicago Police Department.

While Superintendent Jody Weis recently appointed Lieutenant Anthony Carothers to Commander of the Englewood District, his appointment has been received by the rank & file with utter disdain. They and some city residents call the appointment of Carothers a true lack of ethical consideration by the Superintendent.

Interestingly, the newly appointed Commander Anthony Carothers is the brother of Isaac Carothers, the Chicago Alderman recently convicted on charges of public corruption in Federal Court. Ironically, their father, William Carothers, also served as a Chicago Alderman until his conviction on public corruption charges in 1983.

A simple Google search of Anthony Carothers revealed a Federal Court civil action judgment that was entered against him in 1985. Then a Cook County Deputy Sheriff, Anthony acted in concert with his brother Isaac, in activities of intimidation, physical violence and abuses of authority against Arthur Turner, who was campaigning against their imprisoned father's aide for Alderman.

Clout Rules Supreme

Anthony Carothers has reportedly never been promoted by competitive examination score to the ranks of sergeant or lieutenant in the CPD. Instead, those ranks were given to him as "meritorious appointments." Promotions, along with a career full of prestigious assignments, flowed freely while his brother Isaac served as the powerful chairman of the Chicago City Council Committee on Police and Fire.

Carothers is just one the numerous political aristocracies this city and this police department has been forced to endure. The incompetent political hacks that have been positioned to lead us have only poisoned us as a department. They are an embarrassment to be associated with the many honorable men and women of the Chicago Police Department who serve its citizens daily with dignity and distinction. His story is here only because it is the newest. There are others... many others.

Police Superintendent Within the Circle of Corruption?

Yet, in the first set of command staff changes at CPD after the conviction of Alderman Isaac Carothers, we see the gravy train has not stopped for his brother Anthony.

Superintendent Jody Weis promoted the convicted Alderman's brother to Commander of the Englewood District and then publicly boasted that once again he was promoting the "brightest and best" in the Chicago Police Department?

Does Weis really believe the men and women of the CPD will drink the kool-aid and respect or follow people like Anthony Carothers as their leaders?

What overt message was the Superintendent sending to the members of the Chicago Police Department?

• That public corruption is a good?
• That public corruption is to be accepted?
• That public corruption is to be rewarded?
• That leaders of city government and the police department act corrupt themselves by protecting the interests (taking care of family and friends) of corrupt public officials who have been convicted of VIOLATING THE PUBLIC TRUST ???

"This smells of a thousand hogs", as a Chicago newspaperman once wrote.

Was Jody Weis bought and paid for ($310,000/yr) the Chicago way? One might wonder...

Chicago Police: What Happened to Them?

As the spiral of violence in Chicago has increased, people have been asking when the police will be "turned loose" to do their job and restore the rule of law on the streets in Chicago. Many have been pleading with both the Mayor and Superintendent to open their eyes, wake up and do something... to little avail.

After the homicide of the third Chicago police officer within the past 60 days, a police captain posted on a social media site, " Do you think it's about time we take the kid gloves off?", inferring the lack of administrative leadership and fortitude in addressing Chicago's violent crime problems. Yes, the time to take off the kid gloves is well past "long overdue." Perhaps the police should have never put them on in the first place?

A lot has changed over the past several years. The Chicago Police Department is no longer that world class law enforcement agency it once was. In a few short years it has deteriorated into a totally demoralized, understaffed police department that criminals no longer fear.

Paralysis within the Police Department

Contributing factors that have led to the paralysis of the CPD:

• Decimation of existing top-tier leadership by incoming Superintendent
• Lack of leadership / Administrative incompetence
• Overt political corruption within the ranks
• Reductions in field strength levels that have left personnel in dangerous working conditions
• Reductions in field strength levels that have severely limited police effectiveness at protecting life and property or maintaining order on Chicago streets.

Based on the above and other contributing factors, the rank and file of the Chicago Police Department do not have confidence in their leadership. They perceive a number of current "bosses" as incompetent, politically corrupt, or both - beginning with the mayor and police superintendent.

Let's look at some of the conditions of CPD's organizational paralysis...

Fatal Flaws: Lost From the Beginning

When incoming Superintendent Jody Weis arrived on the scene in Chicago, the CPD was already suffering from very low morale, most notably from the Special Operations Section (SOS) and Abatte scandals that were highlighted repeatedly in the mass media. The hard working and honest police officers of this city were being unfairly painted with the broad brush of these two issues. With public perception of the CPD at a very low point, it made the job of serving as a Chicago police officer even harder.

Weis, a career FBI agent, never had experience as a police officer or in managing a local law enforcement agency - let alone the #2 police department in the United States. His earliest decisions and actions would mark his tenure as an unrecoverable failure.

Weis's first fatal flaw as Superintendent was to flex his muscles in a misguided demonstration of "Federal oversight" of the CPD in what has become "The Cozzi Incident." Without going into the well known details here, Weis facilitated a Federal prosecution of a police officer AFTER the officer already had been prosecuted at the State level and received severe administrative discipline from the CPD. Many believed that Cozzi had already been punished, both legally and administratively for his misconduct. Many also believed that while Cozzi's conduct in the incident was not acceptable, it did not rise to the level that warranted an additional Federal prosecution, as was the case with the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles. This single action by Weis was viewed by the rank & file of the department as excessive and draconian. The result was an instant and unrecoverable alienation of Weis from the members of the Chicago Police Department.

Weis's second fatal flaw was to almost immediately decimate the entire top-tier leadership of the department. Instead of working with the existing and experienced senior police managers to better understand how the CPD operated and ease organizational change over time (as Bratton had done when arriving as the new Chief at LAPD from NYPD), Weis summarily dismissed this trusted knowledge base and replaced it with inexperienced lower level command staff and some trusted FBI people that he brought in with him. This was a shock to the department's culture and operation that not only proved to be ineffective, it set the CPD into an immediate tail spin, from which it has not recovered.

The third fatal flaw of the Weis superintendency was really no fault of his own. Weis installed a trusted confidant he brought with him from the FBI as his chief of staff. In such a sensitive position, any smart police executive would have done the same. A chief of staff serves as the eyes and ears of the Superintendent, offering him additional insight and assumedly trusted guidance. Mayor Daley was to have none of that and instead forced Weis to remove his guy and install the Mayor's guy (Mike Masters) instead. It became instantly clear to Weis that he was not running the CPD - City Hall was. While there have been previous chiefs of staff at CPD (who were wired directly to City Hall), Masters has been perceived by the department as the "chief political officer" who has created extreme controversy and dissention within the department - most notably by back-dooring his way into obtaining the "sworn" status of a peace officer. While Weis has been forced to accept Masters and publicly states he has a great working relationship with him, the truth is that Masters keeps Weis on a tight leash, as you rarely see one without the other.

Police Officers Fear Reprisals From Performing Their Duties

With the apparent lack of support from the city or their own leadership, many police officers have reduced their proactive performance and now only contribute at minimum levels. When asked, most will freely tell you that they do not want to place themselves, their families and livelihoods at risk from a perceived Machiavellian police superintendent or other incompetent "bosses" that could lead them into legal trouble that would risk their liberty and freedom (jail).

Command Staff - Lost Leadership, Lost Passion, Lost Compensation, Lost Value

Even competent command staff members who have been looking for guidance and overall department direction when running their commands have frequently asked each other, "Who is steering the ship?"

Now, as "insanity relief" more and more command staff members are openly ridiculing what they call the "Weis-Masters Show" (superintendent and his chief of staff).

Command staff members are quickly losing their passion to lead. Being non-unionized management, the mayor has required they take 24 unpaid furlough days in 2010 (up from 12 unpaid days in 2009 and 6 unpaid days in 2008). Rumor is strong that Daley wants them to submit to 52 unpaid furlough days in 2011. They are questioning their de-valued status and consequently, their loyalty to the goals and objectives of the department.

It is an unrealistic expectation for a District Commander (knowing every Captain and Lieutenant working under them is making more money than they are) to remain loyal to the mission or continue to be positive contributors under these conditions. If 2011 brings 52 unpaid furlough days, most Sergeants will be making more than "the boss."

Who would want to assume or maintain a command leadership position under these circumstances?

It breeds more of "who is going to steer the ships?"

The Reduction of Police Staffing and the Corresponding Reduction of Police Effectiveness

Police field strength levels (especially during overnight hours) have long ago sunk to levels of ineffectiveness at maintaining public order in some Chicago neighborhoods. You can forget about proactive police patrols serving as a visible deterrence to crime. There are just not enough police officers on the street anymore.

Police officers, responding to calls, sometimes turn the corner into a hurricane of crap. Some incidents have required assistance from police officers FIVE DISTRICTS away before public order could be restored.

Law Breakers Have No Fear of the Police

As one sergeant working the midnight watch stated, "There are not enough of us out there. We respond to these out-of-control street parties and order the people to disperse. Now they just stare at us, daring us to do something about it. It's just insane out here. I can't wait to retire."

Extreme staffing reductions are not only dangerous for police officers, they further increase tensions on the street when police are required to take law enforcement actions.

Adversely, the thugs and gang bangers know this too and are now more aggressively and violently challenging police authority. This has resulted in an increase of injury-on-duty claims by police officers, which further contributes to the problems of inadequate field strength levels.

Lost Public Confidence in Public Safety = National Guard

Citizens have seen and felt the reduced police presence in their neighborhoods, along with the resulting epidemic rises of violent crime.

Frustrated and scared, they and some Illinois lawmakers have been calling for deployment of the army national guard on the streets of Chicago to help restore order, as the public is losing confidence in the capability of the Chicago Police Department to do so.

While the mayor has so far rejected such a need, weary and understaffed police officers and supervisors, working the midnight watch in many police districts are seeing things differently.

First Watch (Midnights): The Most Understaffed and Dangerous Watch of All

Complaints of inadequate staffing levels of police on the street continue to come from all watches, but most notably the first watch (midnights). They continue to report that there are not enough police officers assigned to effectively address the demands for police service (911 calls), let alone chronic neighborhood disorder incidents like illegal street and house parties.

It is common knowledge throughout the Chicago Police Department that multiple beat cars are routinely "downed" each day throughout the city, as there are no officers to staff the car for the shift . Many other beat cars are rolling in Chicago on the 3rd & 1st watches (afternoons and midnights) with only one officer instead of two, as is the standard staffing policy at night.

Exhausted and understaffed, officers and supervisors on these watches are now saying that if Chicago is not going to hire more police officers, they would welcome the national guard's assistance, especially on midnights.

Where We Stand Now: The Realities of Organizational Leadership at CPD

• We can no longer afford organizational or personal inaction as a consequence of the incompetent and/or politically corrupt "leaders" of our police department or our city.
• We cannot wait for competent, effective leadership to be delivered to us.

We must develop, identify and implement "bottom-up" leadership at every level of the Department. If you can and your superior can't or won't - then just do it. Don't wait any longer for someone else to do it. There just might not be anyone else.

From Paralysis to Productivity - Our Duty to Get There - No Matter What

What is needed at CPD today:

• Competent leaders empowered to lead the willing
• Sufficient field strength to effectively overcome resistance
• Restored trust and confidence in both the Department and city government

Our duty and responsibility today, as police managers and supervisors... and even as police officers... is to work at getting us there.

While dealing with resource scarcity and navigating the political land mines, we must...

• Ensure the display of positive and competent leadership daily, as an example to all, despite the limitations of some of our superiors.
• Continually identify, develop and empower truly competent leaders within the Department, recognizing the value of "informal leaders" of any rank - in every unit. When competent leaders are utilized, the willing shall follow.

These are critical and key first steps to turnaround and success. I cannot over state this enough. The sparks must be ignited NOW in every unit, on every watch, on every team. These new sparks must carefully be nurtured into a flame, grown into a fire, then fanned into a blaze.

Taking the High Road

We must remain focused on the mission and our purpose. We have taken a solumn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois. As law enforcers, we operate within the law.

Always the Hard Way - Perseverance

Understanding the reality that no organization is perfect (or ever will be), we still must rise to meet the challenges before us, despite the adversities and risks involved.

Sometimes we will have to work around obstacles (physical, political and organizational) to get the job done. I know this will not be easy. Some days may be better than others. From time to time, expect to encounter resistance, obstruction, or attempts at derailment from the personal or political agendas of others. Don't become discouraged - never give up.

Be vigilant. Stay committed.

The decent, law-abiding people of Chicago are depending on us.

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Some follow up comments I wrote after the original writing:
http://highwayroadrunner.blogspot.com/2010/07/follow-up-to-city-at-war-with-itself.html



Work Safe!

John Andrews






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A City At War With Itself: Chicago - Fast Tracking to Anarchy (Understanding the Organizational Paralysis of CPD and the Mission to Recovery) by John R. Andrews is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.