“Too little too late” is the theme of a local paper’s editorial asserting that Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs to fire Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson if he’s serious about stemming the “urban crime pandemic.”
“What Mayor Rahm Emanuel can’t do is explain how continuing to name his new top cop a man well-versed in the so-called war on drugs will do much to cut the epidemic that is gripping America’s second-largest city,” the editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times said, referring to the firing on Friday of Lawrence Johnson, chief of the city’s department of public safety, who has been a target of neighborhood activists since he took the post.
The mayor in fact fired another of his top officers, Eugene Roy, over the weekend and had previously had issues with how he handled the case of Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old autistic man who died after police repeatedly shot him in December 2016. Mr. Johnson replaced Mr. Roy as police superintendent in 2017, a relatively close and tumultuous transition at a time of widespread discontent over the treatment of black citizens in the department.
The editorial about Mr. Johnson, however, was lengthy and sharp.
The mayor knows, though, that no name in the department will shake the way justice system is in Chicago; it requires the so-called superintendent “to walk the walk,” as Mr. Emanuel once put it, not talk the talk of reform. Chief Johnson can’t help but be seen as another top cop who has called for more “training” and other developments in the nearly half-century-old department. And although the crime statistics are back to, well, levels of the ’90s, the department is a stone’s throw from full staffing levels that once were considered impossible. Something is definitely wrong, and the mayor of the city where most murders are committed should have it fixed, and soon. Either he needs to get serious about the firing of the superintendent, or he must start by doing the political equivalent of one, which is to fire city residents who get involved in the protests at the drawing of a gun in a public place.
Emanuel has been seeking to manage the crime problem, with varying degrees of success, in the wake of the “Grand Jury Indictment of Laquan McDonald” decision and the shooting death of Michael Brown, which was captured on video. As The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer noted on Saturday, there is also a major racial issue tied to the issue of poverty that also clashes with policing methods in Chicago and across the country. The Wall Street Journal’s Asha Rangappa called Chicago “among the top 10 most dangerous cities in the country.”
This week’s attacks on police officers appear to show an attempt to harm them politically, The Chicago Tribune’s Heather Long said in a commentary.
Protesters also have ambushed Chicago police officers in recent months, who face a dispiriting reality: they are not immune from acts of violence. One officer was shot in the knee during a shooting last week and the reporter for the Huffington Post was viciously beaten and threatened with death in August 2016. All of this comes despite Chicago’s relatively robust minority population (roughly 20 percent of the city’s population is black).
And, according to the Tribune, at least 42 people have been shot in the city since Friday, bringing the August total to 195. On Saturday alone, 17 people were wounded in shootings. More than 50 people have been shot since the start of the month, including 17 since Friday.