A couple of weeks ago we noted that with one week left in office, Obama’s Department of Justice released a report effectively labeling the Chicago police department as nothing more than a bunch of racist, hate-mongering bullies who routinely resort to the use of “deadly force” in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Here is the tweet posted by the DOJ:
Justice Department Finds a Pattern of Civil Rights Violations by the Chicago Police Department ? https://t.co/600C0xV3yX
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) January 13, 2017
And while Attorney General Loretta Lynch was all too happy to note a “pattern of civil rights violations by the Chicago Police Department,” one thing the Department of Justice’s report didn’t highlight was the soaring number of homicides among Chicago’s police which experts attribute to having to work every single day in the city’s “war zone.” Per the Chicago Sun Times:
Buried among the facts and figures in the Justice Department’s recent book-length report on the failings of the Chicago Police Department was a telling statistic: The rate of suicide among CPD officers is 60 percent higher than other departments across the U.S.
Ron Rufo was a peer support counselor for most of his 21 years as a patrolman in the 9th District, volunteering to talk to his fellow officers at any scene where an officer was killed or injured. Rufo, who retired a little more than a year ago, estimates the number of his former peers who kill themselves each year could be double the FOP figure.
“There is a problem, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Rufo said. “Supervisors don’t talk about it. The rank-and-file don’t talk about it. And it’s like the administration does not want to admit it’s a problem.”
“When you have 760 homicides in the city in a year, that’s a war zone — and that’s where [police] are working every day,” said James, who noted the total number of murders in Chicago last year was larger than the tally in Los Angeles and New York, combined.
“It is a hard, hard job, and police officers get very little support,” she said.
Meanwhile, the DOJ report also failed to highlight the deficiencies in the Chicago PD’s counseling services with 3 full-time counselors providing care for 13,500 police men and women.
The CPD’s Employee Assistance Program, which provides mental health services to 13,500 police officers and staff, has only three full-time counselors. The Los Angeles PD, the next-largest department in the U.S., has a staff of 11 clinicians for less than 10,000 sworn officers.
The small number of counselors leads to a “triage” approach to counseling services, the DOJ report states, with those three staffers offering about 7,500 consultations in 2015 alone. The combination of a potential backlog for appointments and the typical cop’s reluctance to seek help for mental issues hasn’t made EAP popular.
“You can go there whenever you want and make appointments,” said a veteran officer in a West Side district. “I believe there’s only two therapists there, so what’s their availability?”
“Do people do it? I don’t know. If they do, they don’t talk about it. I’ve never, in 14 years on the job, ever heard more than one or two guys talk about going to EAP.”
To add insult to injury, the Chicago Sun Times points out that, because of Chicago’s onerous gun laws that permanently prohibit anyone who has been involuntarily committed for in-patient mental health treatment from carrying a gun, a requirement for cops, the folks working for the Chicago PD generally refuse mental health services out of fear of losing their job.
Illinois is one of a handful of states that permanently prohibits anyone who has been involuntarily committed to in-patient mental health treatment from getting a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. A permit to carry a gun is a job requirement for police officers, and many officers believe — wrongly — that they could lose their FOID card just for seeing a therapist, going on psychiatric medication or getting outpatient treatment, Friedman said.
“This is a real problem,” Friedman said. “Police officers are the only class of citizen in the U.S. who is going to lose their job for seeking mental health care.”
Officers need support to deal with trauma, not just when they’ve been involved in a shooting.
“We don’t put a notch on our gun when we shoot someone. It’s traumatic for the officer, but not everyone needs 30 days to deal with it,” Angelo said. “What about the guy that went to a domestic and saw a baby covered in roaches? Or who just buried his own kid.
“It’s a crazy-ass job,” he said. “You’re dealing with the crazy. You can’t be crazy.”
But, something tells us the new administration is going to take a slightly different approach toward dealing with Chicago’s cops and crime than the past administration.
If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
* * *