by Eileen Hogan Heineman, Director of Racial Justice Programs Posted December 3, 2015
We are grateful for the many voices - and tragic videos - that have brought us to this moment in history. However, the firing of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy will be merely a symbolic gesture, unless what follows immediately is a comprehensive plan for changing the culture within the entire Police Department. The CPD and the Fraternal Order of Police need to work together to address questions such as:
What outside agency will be brought in to provide long-term Equity and Inclusion training of every single CPD employee ?
When will it begin, and what will be the schedule for ongoing delivery of training?
What systems of real accountability will be implemented for those officers whose on- duty conduct does not reflect a deeper empathy for the citizens they are serving?
What will be the new procedures for dealing with officers who have generated multiple complaints of excessive force?
What will be the penalty for a CPD employee, at any level, who witnesses another CPD employee using excessive force and neither interrupts nor reports the behavior?
What incentives will there be for police stations to create positive interactions with community groups, houses of worship, etc. in their beats?
Systemic problems can no longer be treated as if they are isolated incidents. Perceived threats, based primarily on the race of the person in question, can no longer justify criminal behavior on the part of law enforcement officers. The large percentage of police officers, who respond with appropriate levels of force, must be freed from the negative image created by those officers who abuse their power.
Culture change takes collective hard work, and wastes no time with blame, shame or excuses. Authentic transformation requires a high level of intentionality, so City of Chicago and Fraternal Order of Police, get busy! To borrow a phrase from 1968, “the whole world’s watching!”