Violence in Chicago has become something of a conservative media trope in recent years. It's routinely invoked as a talking point on various issues, from failed and corrupt liberal governance, to gun control, to media coverage of high-profile slayings elsewhere. This focus on Chicago is sometimes legitimate, as it underscores uncomfortable realities and refutes lazy leftist framing. At other times, it feels more like a whataboutist deflection; a knee-jerk retort, rather than a considered argument. But excesses aside, not all mentions of Chicago's serious problems can be fairly dismissed as reflexive or out-of-bounds. Over the weekend, a young female police officer was shot to death on the city's south side during a traffic stop. The details are chilling and horrific:
Chicago police have arrested all three suspects in the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old female police officer who was killed during a traffic stop on the South Side as the nation's third largest city grapples with yet another weekend of deadly gun violence. Ella French, the 29-year-old officer who had just returned to active duty from maternity leave, was killed and her partner was seriously wounded during the armed confrontation with three suspects. French is survived by a two-month-old daughter. She was one of 10 people killed and 64 wounded by gun violence throughout Chicagoland over the weekend...The two officers were fired upon after a vehicle carrying two men and a woman had been pulled over at 9pm, said Eric Carter, Chicago police first deputy superintendent, at a news conference early Sunday.
This is the young woman, officer, and mother who was stolen from her colleagues and loved ones. I don't believe I've seen many celebrities or woke figures demanding Americans "say her name" about Ella French:
Weekend spasms of violence, especially over the summer, are a tragically and infuriatingly familiar story in the Windy City. Just last month, around the July 4th holiday, more than 100 Chicagoans were shot over a short time span, including more than a dozen children. Nineteen of those victims died. Year-to-date, the city has recorded well over 2,000 shootings. At the same time, hundreds of police officers are leaving the force, which has been a frequent object of criticism from activists and city leaders. Chicago PD recently announced new restrictions on foot pursuits of suspects. As we've seen in other large, blue cities, quite a few officers have concluded that being scapegoated and targeted for abuse (and worse) is no longer worth it. Chicago's CBS affiliate reports:
CBS reports on the Chicago police retirement spike: "in just the first 6 months of this year, 367 officers retired"— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 9, 2021
One officer who had nearly 25 years on the job and retired within the past year said: “we get spit on, we get things thrown at us” pic.twitter.com/dxk03a6sre
Retirements have surged among officers who are both eligible and ineligible for pensions, pointing to a growing desire to just get out:
Retirement numbers are broken up in two ways: Those who don’t get their pension because they’re not eligible and those who do get a pension. Data obtained through public records shows in 2017, 37 officers left the department before being eligible for a pension. So far this year that number is nearly double with 68 officers. For those who are retiring with their pension, that number has been climbing steadily over the years: In 2018 there were 339 retirements. The following year in 2019, there were 475. In 2020, there were 560 retirements. And already this year: 367 just through the month of June.
The story quotes one longtime police veteran, recipient of repeated commendations, who's opted to depart:
“We get spit on. We get things thrown at us, you know, you, they’re fighting with us. People are protesting, calling us names and not just the protestors,” said the retired officer. “But you’ve got the people who are supposed to have our back in government.” This former officer said there’s a feeling the rank and file don’t have the support they need to carry out their duties from the superintendent and mayor. “If someone had our back, we could do our jobs,” said the [newly-retired] officer. “But again, threatened with lawsuits, indictments, officers getting fired, that is actually, again, stifling us”...
Like many Americans, I'm all for police reform and accountability (tools like body cameras can help implicate bad officers and protect good ones). I'm hopeful that Sen. Tim Scott's bipartisan negotiations on consensus legislation will bear fruit. But the decision to make police the enemy -- embraced or indulged by far too many Democratic public officials -- has been a dangerous and costly mistake. Activists' sloppy form of racial 'reckoning' may lead to another form of reckoning on crime, via voters. In case you missed it last week, this dead-end, hypocritical mentality was exemplified by a Squad member in an interview:
Cori Bush: I’m going to make sure I have private security but defunding the police needs to happen. pic.twitter.com/6jbv4HLlGs— Mike Berg (@MikeKBerg) August 5, 2021
It's hard for Democrats and their media enablers to argue that the rhetoric and policy preferences of a freshman backbencher isn't terribly important considering that she just (nearly single-handedly) successfully pressured the President of the United States to implement a terrible policy that even he has strongly indicated is unconstitutional -- while receiving effusive plaudits from the Democratic leaders of both Congressional chambers. The "defund the police" crowd is the id of the Democratic Party's base, and the supposed adults in the room are increasingly beholden to that vocal id. Finally, while we're on the subject of Chicago, I'll leave you with this:
And while cases are rising, the state is nowhere near the point where local officials need to worry about hospital capacity.— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) August 9, 2021
Illinois is now averaging nearly 2,400 new cases diagnosed each day. And deaths did jump in the past week, from 39 to 64.https://t.co/p9lUpxBboH