The Corner

Amid Violent Summer, Chicago Sends 50 Police Officers to the DNC

“Chicago” means different things to different people. To political types it has become a metonym for the “the Obama campaign”; to MSNBC types it is a clever dog-whistle employed by conservatives in lieu of saying “black people”; and to anyone who has been watching the crime statistics, it is another word for “politically corrupt murder zone.” So bad is the city, in fact, that, according to ABC News, “the Rev. Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church” considers there to be a “state of emergency.” Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff and now the city’s mayor, agrees, which is why he has asked “for federal agents and U.S. Marshals to help combat the city’s wave of violence.”

The situation on the ground makes it all the more perplexing why the city has elected to send 50 Chicago police officers to “Charlotte to work perimeter security details for a week at the Democratic National Convention.” As ABC News observed, “a Charlotte police department spokesperson confirmed that ‘roughly 50 officers from Chicago’ were on duty at the convention.”

Chicago police-union officials questioned the use of officers in Charlotte.

“We had two homicides and dozens of shootings this weekend, and we’re sending officers out of the city?” said Pat Camden, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. “I think the average person would shake his head over that.”

In their defense, officials in Chicago argued that the officers were “on their days off and were not pulled off the street,” and noted that their salaries are being paid by a federal grant that was made for convention security. Still, one might ask whether this is relevant: In a genuine “state of emergency,” you use all the help that you can get. If those officers are available to work in North Carolina, why can’t they be asked to work overtime in Chicago? Union rules, one suspects. And not least thanks to the prohibitive labor costs of unionized officers, the force is understaffed already:

The police union has been critical of Mayor Emanuel, a prominent figure in the Democratic party and former White House chief of staff, for substantial reductions in the police budget.

“We’ve had about a thousand officers retire over the last two years and only about 200 have been hired to replace them,” said Camden, the Fraternal Order of Police spokesperson.

“We’ve had a collective failure of all institutions to address the violence and I don’t give the President a pass either,” said the Chicago pastor, Rev. Acree.

The rest here.

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