Damage Control, Inc.: Chicago Police Releases Videos of Alleged Excess Force
June 6, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — This one could be filed in the Bertrand Russell “evidence against interest” bin. The Chicago Police Department has decided to release videos of alleged misconduct done by its officers. Just because, they say, for now at least. The Washington Post Reports:
As the city’s police department faces intense scrutiny and a looming Justice Department investigation, authorities promising reform and increased transparency said they were releasing the trove to try and restore trust between officers and the community. The agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct in the city posted this material all at once, which experts said was an “unprecedented” move.
The video footage, documents and other evidence released Friday date back as far as five years. Included in these documents are the names of at least a dozen officers who have fatally shot someone and have not previously been identified by the police department. In many cases, police reports are accompanied by blurry recordings — captured by dashboard cameras or cellphones — showing little other than stationary police cars, officers standing amid flashing blue and red lights.
Well, even the previous “black site” scandal from Chicago didn’t prompt this disclosure, where there were credible allegations of people being held incognito and beaten sans lawyers. In the United States, not secretly abroad, behind our backs. Where people were purportedly held and beaten like animals in the dark. Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, who himself has no shortage of knife-to-the-table faux bravado, has said that his police department has turned over a new leaf:
“While I am pleased that Chicago is taking this important next step in our effort to be more transparent on these issues, we know there is a lot more work to do,” Emanuel said in a statement Friday. “This new policy is one piece of a much larger effort to restore trust and repair relationships between law enforcement and our communities.
In essence, the Second City of Chicago is releasing a bunch of videos of people being victims of alleged police brutality. Only the cynical would think that this new “kitchen sink” approach would be an attempt to lessen the impact of each video released one at a time. It’s not as if Chicago’s police department has kept footage of its nefarious conduct under wraps before. One would think that this type of police misconduct and subsequent cover up only happens in banana republics, where the only thing that “functions” is a soccer ball, or perhaps a baseball, for that matter. It just doesn’t happen here, folks. We’re better than that.
Chicago’s PD is now saying that it’s coming clean. That it’s releasing this footage in the interest of transparency. But the fact remains that it has fought tooth and nail in the past to keep this kind of stuff under wraps. Over and over, until a court order forces them to release a video. This stuff has gone down with the blessing of those at the top of Chicago’s chain of command, with little consequence to bear for anyone (well, almost anyone). Even after someone was executed while walking away from one of its officers. This is its proverbial “hail Mary” in seeking credibility:
In Chicago, police and city officials are still feeling the aftereffects of the McDonald video, which was widely circulated online and played on a loop on cable news. On the same day the video came out in November 2015, the officer who shot McDonald was charged with murder. Heated demonstrations quickly followed, and in subsequent weeks, Emanuel ousted his police superintendent and formed a task force aimed at recommending police reforms.
The Justice Department also launched an investigation into the police department, the country’s second-biggest local law enforcement agency.
When dealing with this kind of (almost not, hopefully) perpetual pattern of misconduct coming from Chicago’s PD, it makes it easy to deploy one of the prosecutor’s favorite rejoinders to a defendant: “You’re only sorry because you got caught.” After Chicago’s PD has scratched and crawled to keep videos of misconduct secret, we’re entitled to a little indulgence and be skeptical when analyzing its motive to release these videos. We may invite the obvious by asking why this stuff hasn’t been released until now. We would evade the obvious by saying it’s too little too late:
Earlier this year, Emanuel’s task force recommended speeding up the release of videos and other evidence from shootings and deaths in custody, saying that the city had to move away from its practice of withholding evidence until investigations are concluded. The task force argued that residents had “an undeniable” interest in being informed about “about how their police force conducts its business, especially the death of, or great bodily harm to, a civilian.”
But let’s not betray Orwell by euphemizing the situation. This latest horror show from Chicago’s PD is in Chicago’s future, and it is so ghastly that no one dares to face it, and we can only peep through our fingers at what eventually will be exposed. At least for now, let’s see Chicago’s damage control incorporated.