‘Superintendent ACLU’ runs police department
by RUSS STEWART
Chicago doesn’t need a new police superintendent. It already has one: the American Civil Liberties Union. It is "Superintendent ACLU," and the "ACLU Rule" governs on-street activity and monitors police conduct.
Every time a police officer makes a traffic stop, questions a suspect or talks to anybody on the street, a seven-page "stop card" must be prepared and filed, and a copy is forwarded to the ACLU. Every "contact" must be given a written receipt, which goes into the police department’s database. Each "stop card" requires 15 to 20 minutes to prepare, which means that every beat cop must spend more time in the station and less time on the street? Police stops are down 85 percent in thus far in 2016 compared to 2015.
In short, the ACLU is policing the police officers who are supposed to be policing the city. Welcome to the brave new world of law enforcement in the post-Ferguson era. Cops don’t "enforce" the law. There is no deterrence. There is no street presence. Cops have become mere observers. The "butt rule" applies: Sit in your patrol car, do your 8-hour shift, ignore on-street activity, do your paperwork, protect your pension, and go home. Above all, don’t get yourself on somebody’s iPad or iPod.
The motto of the Chicago Police Department used to be "We Serve and Protect." Now it’s "I Know Nothing." Overtime is no longer street time, it’s paperwork time.
Chicago is a "sanctuary city," which means that illegal aliens, if confronted and questioned, cannot be arrested for that reason and cannot be deported. The ACLU has redefined "suspicious behavior," and looking like an illegal is no longer probable cause for an on-street inquiry. In a deal brokered by state Senator Kwame Raoul to litigation, every stop requires documentation as to who, what, when, where and why, with the ACLU as the proverbial judge and jury. "Nobody wants to get out of their car any more," one retired police lieutenant said, and that has serious implications.
Back when I was a kid, there was TV western about a mercenary gunfighter titled "Have Gun, Will Travel." That about describes Chicago this summer. This year will be Chicago’s year of homicides and heroin. With cops safely nestled in their cars, every punk, criminal and gang member will pack a gun, either on their person or in their car, secure in the expectation that they will not be stopped, questioned or searched. Welcome to Dodge City.
However, here’s the good news: The street gangs who so busily kill each other in territorial disputes will be too busy distributing heroin to waste time on drive-by shootings. Money for everyone. The South and Central American drug cartels, centered primarily in Columbia, have been using street gangs as their end distributors for two decades. Narcotics don’t enter America by boat or plane. They enter through "trap cars," which means hollowed-out sections of cars or trucks which cross the Mexican border. "They can stuff 2,000 to 3,000 kilos of heroin in one vehicle," the retired cop said, and 20,000 kilos, when stepped up and sold in $10 bags, can generate $6 million. "It can’t be stopped," the cop said. "There’s a heroin epidemic."
"There are street operators who are making $80,000 to $100,000 a day," the former gang crimes lieutenant said. "All in cash. All in $100 bills. And it all goes back through Mexico to Columbia." The "heroin hub" is the West Side, generally in the area around Cicero Avenue and Van Buren Street, just off the Eisenhower Expressway. The intersections change daily, but, the cop said, the buyers are guaranteed in-and-out "safe passage" by the local gangs, and the suburban white kids can load up on $10 bags, which can be resold for $20 or more. The heroin, known as "China white," is Columbian-grown, and it has replaced the Mexican-grown "Mexican mud." It is injected, which makes it highly addictive. Crack cocaine and marijuana also is sold.
Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage recently bemoaned the East Coast’s heroin epidemic, saying that drug dealers from Connecticut and New York are entering his state and, he said, getting white girls pregnant and addicted. He was roundly chastised, not for the fact, but for the implication. In Chicago and Cook County, there are two gang factions, "People" and "Folks." Both have geographic hegemony, certain factions within them peddle dope, and of late there has been a "truce," the cop said. "They’ve stopped killing each other," he said. "They’re all making too much money."
Until the 1980s there were white gangs, the most prominent being the "Gaylords." Now they’re nearly all black or Hispanic. Within each faction there is friction. The biggest black "People" gang is the "Vice Lords," who run the West Side heroin trade, which caters to suburban white buyers. The other major dealer on the West Side is the "4-Corner Hustlers," a onetime black faction of the "Vice Lords," which focuses on black buyers." They "own" the street corners around Madison Street and Pulaski Road. Two other former "Vice Lords" offshoots exist on the South Side, the "Mickey Cobras" and the "Black P Stones," which used to dominate the Cabrini Green projects. They are into more prosaic crime, not narcotics. Until recently, they were constantly squabbling — and killing — each other over territory. The other "People" gang is the "Latin Kings," a largely Mexican-American operation which has long dominated the area west of Humboldt Park, stretching down to 26th Street and as far south as 110th Street. The gentrification of Logan Square has pushed them west into Cicero, Berwyn and the near west suburbs.
The "Folks" are an equally diverse, equally violent operation. The " "Black Gangster Disciples" dominate the South Side heroin market. The city’s largest Puerto Rican gang is the "Maniac Latin Disciples," who for decades battled the "Latin Kings" for control of the west Humboldt area and who have prevailed. That gang has now moved west, as far as Riis Park, at Grand and Narragansett avenues. Puerto Rican offshoots of the "Maniac Latin Disciples" are the "Spanish Cobras," who run the area east of Humboldt Park, and the "Latin Eagles," who dominate the 26th Street area.
In the past decade, territoriality defined drug distribution, and still does. Specific gangs "owned" specific street corners. No "invasions" by rival gangs were permitted. Up until the early 2000s, the city’s "Anti-Loitering Act" was a deterrent to drug dealing. Cops would show up at an intersection with a bunch of milling gang members and order them to disperse, and if they weren’t gone in 30 minutes, arrest them for loitering. It worked, until the ACLU went to court and the law was found unconstitutional. Now everybody has a right to loiter.
Back in the 1990s, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pioneered the "broken window" concept of policing. He monitored crime statistics, and if they spiked in a certain area, he flooded that area with cops. The law breakers quickly moved elsewhere. Under the Daley Administration, and up until about 2015 under Rahm Emanuel, a similar policing policy worked in Chicago. Cops from low-crime areas were re-assigned to high-crime districts. Where drug dealing and prostitution flourished, two-man squad cars would park at street corners where gang members hung out and walk around getting names and examining identification. That invariably caused the gang members to "rabbit."
That was an important law enforcement tool, as all information went into the police department’s database, and those with outstanding warrants were identified and located. No longer.
Another Giuliani anti-crime tactic was an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy. "Suspicious" people were stopped, questioned and frisked. No longer. Since it was mostly non-whites who were stopped, the ACLU deemed the procedure racist and got court orders to ban "racial profiling." Just "hanging out" does not rise to the level of "probable cause."
Now we have a "violence problem," exemplified by police shootings in Ferguson, Mo., and thereafter in Baltimore, Minneapolis and Chicago. The reaction is, let’s blame the police, and Hillary Clinton recently blamed Donald Trump for fomenting an "atmosphere of violence." You know where this is going. Why not blame Trump for every gang- and drug-related homicide. Of course, it’s not Emanuel’s fault nor the ACLU’s.
There used to be 14,500 sworn Chicago police officers. That’s down to 11,500, and you can blame that on hiring procedures. Every politician proposes hiring more cops, but the morass of court rulings mandates that there be more minority hirings, and fewer minorities apply.
Morale has never been so low among police officers, the cop said. "They feel like if they do their job they’ll be persecuted and maybe even prosecuted," he said.
Not surprisingly, gun purchases have spiked.
Here’s some advice to Chicagoans: If you observe some "suspicious activity" or witness a crime being committed, don’t bother to call 911. Phone the ACLU. They’ll send out a lawyer within 14 days. They’ll put the bad guys in jail . . . maybe.
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.