Chicago Weekend: Is Crime Down, Or Are Neighborhoods Emptying?

Is crime really dropping in Chicago? Not long ago, the public would have been forced to rely on some pretty unreliable sources for an answer:

  • academicians who worship at the ‘the public’s crime fears are overblown‘ altar
  • mainstream reporters who worship at the “academicians who worship at the ‘the public’s crime fears are overblown’ altar” altar
  • Chicago politicians

From sources like that, you get contradictory numbers like this, in the Chicago Sun-Times... 

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Remember Police on May 13: A Sister’s Eulogy

May 13 is the Annual Candlelight Vigil for Fallen Police Officers in Washington D.C.

Last May, Chicago Police Officer and Army National Guard Lieutenant Thomas E. Wortham IV, 30, was gunned down outside his parents’ home just after returning from a trip to Washington to honor other fallen officers.  This year, it is his turn to be honored at the memorial along with the 157 other officers who died in the line of duty in 2010. ... 

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Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marty Hittleman: California Teachers Endorse a Cop Killer, Get Caught, Blame Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Question: What’s worse than a teacher’s union voting to support a cold-blooded cop killer? Answer: A teacher’s union voting to support a cold-blooded cop killer, then making up all sorts of lame excuses to the cop’s widow before hanging up on her, then running to their membership to tell an entirely different story to justify their behavior . . . by pointing fingers at  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who, according to the California Federation of Teachers union, is forcing teachers 2000 miles away support a cop killer.

Marty Hittelman, President, California Federation of Teachers ... 

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War on Cops: It Takes a Village to Kill a Cop

Last spring was a bloody time for police officers. Chicago buried three officers in fast succession.  Tampa/St. Pete, where I live, saw two officers gunned down and two more wounded (seven more police in Florida, three in Tampa/St. Pete alone, have been shot to death since then).  Nationwide, by the end of the year, 59 cops had been murdered in shootings.  The previous year, 2009, ended on a bloody note, too.  On November 29, in Lakewood, Washington, Maurice Clemmons gunned down four officers as they sat eating breakfast in a restaurant.

Maurice Clemmons ... 

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The War on Cops: Blame the Courts, Not the Police.

It is not yet August, and 94 police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, 87 by the mid-year mark (June 30), and seven more in July.  That’s an increase of 43% since 2009.  But another fact emerging from the statistics is even more chilling: gun killings of officers have more than doubled in the last twenty-four months, rising 22% in 2008 – 2009, and a staggering 41% in 2009 – 2010.

That is an increase of 63% in just two years. ... 

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Two Tampa-Area Police Dead, Two Others Wounded: It’s Time for a Citizen’s Review Panel . . . of the Courts

The Tampa Bay area is reeling from four police shootings, two fatal, two non-fatal only because the officers were wearing bullet-proof vests.

This morning, Tampa officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis were killed at a traffic stop.  David Curtis was the father of four young children.  He worked the overnight shift so he could spend more time with his children.  Jeffrey Kocab was about to become a father: he leaves behind a wife who is nine months pregnant. ... 

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The Green Mile Syndrome: David Lee Powell Was Not Innocent. His Victims Are Not Hateful.

Someone claiming to be cop-killer David Powell’s cousin has written me, accusing Powell’s victims and the justice system of various sins.  Unsupported allegations like these too often pass for debate over the death penalty in the mainstream media.  Therefore, it’s worth a look, though the slurs Powell’s cousin tosses at the victims ought to just be trash canned.  See here and here for my previous posts on Powell.

The writer, John Struve, makes several assertions about minutiae of the appeals process — assertions that should be taken with a very large grain of salt, for he offers no proof.  It’s not as if the courts didn’t revisit these cases in detail: that is why it took 30 years to execute Powell.  It’s not as if Struve lacks access to the court documents.  But he feels no need to back up his claims, and in this, the media has unfortunately trained him to need no proof as he says everything and anything about the case against Powell. ... 

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Clockwork Riots, L.A. Lakers Style: These Are Not Sports Fans

Imagine the crappiest job in the world:

You put on your Men’s Warehouse suit and drive to the office, dreading the inevitable outcome of the day.  Settling into your cubicle, you arrange the day’s work on the chipped laminate desk: a billy club, mace, and a copy of the quarterly budget figures for your division, awaiting approval from above.  In the next cubicle, Joey H. is already rocking back and forth in his mesh swivel knockoff, working the screws on one of the padded armrests. ... 

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Executing David Lee Powell: The Austin Statesman Hearts a Cop-Killer

Media coverage of executions used to be shameless.  Reporters played advocate, inserting themselves and their inflamed sensibilities into the story, while victims’ families were ignored or accused of being “vengeful,” a crime apparently worse than murder itself.

Only victims’ families were thus demeaned: offenders, no matter the horror of their actual crimes, were depicted in only the most positive light.  They were deemed specially sensitive, or dignified, or talented, or at least pitiful, as if playing up to (or merely embodying) the reporter’s sensibilities magically erased the profound harm these men had visited on others. ... 

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Police Killings are a National Emergency: Why No National Leadership?

These are unbearably dangerous times for police, and their families. In the last week, in two different tragedies, older officers witnessed the murder of their police officer sons, one in Chicago, one in West Memphis.  The second officer killed in the Memphis shooting was the son and grandson of police officers as well.

Chicago: ... 

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“Every Single Crime Can Be Prevented” — Garry McCarthy

That’s Garry McCarthy, Police Director of Newark, New Jersey, where the city’s murder rate has declined 25% under a new police administration and a zero-tolerance attitude towards crime.  CBS News compares Newark’s success with Chicago’s failure to quell violent crime.

Why doesn’t every Chief of Police sound like McCarthy?  If you can’t count on the head of the police to insist that crime is unacceptable, who can you count on? ... 

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The Guilty Project. Death by Parole Board: Ankle Bracelet Didn’t Stop Ronald Robinson From Killing Officer Michael Crawshaw

It’s too bad we don’t have CSI units slapping crime tape around our parole boards.  From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Ronald Robinson, 32, of Homewood, who is charged with the slayings of Officer [Michael] Crawshaw and another man Dec. 6, has a long criminal history and a record of repeatedly violating terms of his parole . . . From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Robinson was repeatedly accused of wielding firearms on the streets of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. In a January 1998 criminal complaint, police said Mr. Robinson choked and punched a woman and then pointed a semi-automatic gun at her. In 2001, he was accused of shooting a man in the leg.  Two years later, according to court records, a pair of witnesses told police that Mr. Robinson fired a gun in the air at Hawkins Village in Rankin. In each case, many charges were withdrawn... 

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Turkey Seeking New Gravy Train, or Misunderstood Geek?

“People may not like his style” begins the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s denouement of the Chief Pennington years.

As if the crime-weary public has been complaining all along about the cut of Chief Pennington’s jib, not the fact that he poo-poohed the rising crime wave, turned on his own officers, and stopped doing his job. ... 

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Criminal Apologetics and Bizarre Technicalities in St. Pete: Blaming Cops for Criminal Acts

I didn’t have to look far to find today’s dreadful example of the media blaming anyone except criminals for criminal acts.  In the St. Pete Times today, Howard Troxler, a normally reasonable man, wanders far down an ugly path by questioning the recent conviction of a knife-wielding repeat offender on two grounds: the purported reputation of the officer who confronted him, and some trumped-up technicality about types of knives that should be considered weapons.

Troxler apparently feels that police officer Joe Ardolino is permanently tarnished because, in 2003, he was involved in a car chase (of a violent, prolific offender) that ended in the suspect’s death.  Never mind that Ardolino was cleared in the incident, as he should have been: once charged, always guilty, at least when it comes to the police.  Troxler crosses a troubling line when he impugns the officer in the subsequent murder of a fellow officer: ... 

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Strategies to Disappear Crimes: Rape in New Orleans

Hat tip to Lou: an article that examines the New Orleans Police Department’s strategy for cutting the official number of rapes they report to the FBI: they do not investigate 60% of reported rapes:

More than half the time New Orleans police receive reports of rape or other sexual assaults against women, officers classify the matter as a noncriminal “complaint.” ... 

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Post-Press Conference Fallout: Aphorisms Versus Platitudes

I had not been watching Atlanta television news until I tried to watch the press conference yesterday morning.  They are sending people to bang on doors, looking for the Chief of Police, and challenging the Mayor on her unwillingness to address the issue.  My apologies.  The media is alive and kicking in Atlanta.

Yesterday morning, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Police Chief Richard Pennington held a press conference to talk about crime.  Here is some of what they said, culled from local news reports: ... 

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The Tragedy in Cambridge

It must be pretty awful to be a police officer in Cambridge right now.  Looking at their faces on the news, I cannot help but wonder how much more of a burden they are going to be expected to carry, not just now, but weeks and months down the line.

Cops don’t have the luxury to play games, like politicians and pundits.  They are forced to confront treacherous social fault-lines every day on the job while less serious people sit by the sidelines and judge their efforts.  At times like these, powerful people seem to be rooting for the police to fail, and the unfairness of this, and the pressures it adds to their work, will not be acknowledged. ... 

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What Works? D.C. Moves Forward on Fighting Crime

As Atlanta prepares for the none-too-soon departure of the current mayor and police chief, it’s worth considering the example of cities where reasonable, engaged crime-fighting policies seem to be working:

Washington D.C. is experiencing the lowest murder rate in years.  Why? D.C.’s fairly new and interesting Police Chief, Cathy L. Lanier, attributes the drop in murder rates to intensive use of communication tools and intensive planning to anticipate trouble at certain events and between certain gangs: ... 

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Sgt. Scott Kreher Update: Cops and Us

Sgt. Scott Kreher of the Atlanta Police Department, has been returned to desk duties as Mayor Shirley Franklin continues down the path of using the D.A.’s office to “investigate” him for importune remarks made during a hearing on denying medical benefits to the city’s disabled officers.  Stephanie Ramage, at The Ramage Report, has issued another call to restore Sgt. Kreher to his full duties.  It’s an amazing plea for forgiveness and the respect the police deserve.

Along the lines of Stephanie’s blog, I’ve been having some interesting conversations with a young police officer at my gym.  What always strikes me when I’m talking to police is how they view their jobs as a calling, not just a place to punch the clock.  The young officer at my gym told me that he does not do overtime because he recognizes the need to be able to go home and have a life at the end of his shift, because the job is so intense and what is being asked of police officers is so emotionally challenging. ... 

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Selective Outrage: What the Paralyzed Cop Scandal Says About Atlanta’s Politicians

As elected officials in Atlanta crowd the microphone to denounce Sgt. Scott Kreher for saying something importune about Mayor Shirley Franklin, the list grows . . . of elected officials in Atlanta grandstanding on Kreher while refusing to comment on the city’s grotesque treatment of wounded police officers, the real issue.

Here is a video Kreher helped create that details the systematic abuse of the officers by the city.  And here is a petition supporting Kreher, a decent guy who lost his temper over real injustice.  Not fake injustice.  I urge you to read the text of the petition, if you want to know what really happened. ... 

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How Atlanta Treats its Wounded Police Officers on Memorial Day

If the genius of democracy is the peaceful transfer of power through elections, the tragedy of democracy is the exploitation of this public goodwill by elected and appointed officials who treat their last year or so in office (sometimes, their entire time in office) like a tin pot dictatorship, holing up and divvying the spoils while behaving as if the needs of the people are beneath their concern.

There’s little the public can do about a lame duck elected official who treats them with contempt.  Little, that is, except doing their homework for the next election, noting who is aligned with whom, voting accordingly — and carefully counting the towels after each transfer of power is complete. ... 

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How Many Gold Mercedes Are There Out There?

THE average citizen hardly needs to be persuaded that crimes will be committed more frequently if, other things being equal, crime becomes more profitable than other ways of spending one’s time.

–James Q. Wilson, “Thinking About CrimeAtlantic Monthly, September, 1983 ... 

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The Case of the Missing Zero or 785 Officers

WHAT a difference a month makes. Or does it?

A few short weeks ago, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington and Mayor Shirley Franklin were working overtime to insist that residents’ concerns over crime were overblown. “The city is safer now than it has been in decades,” the Mayor callously announced when the brutal murder of bartender John Henderson mobilized residents to demand more police on the streets. ... 

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