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by Peter Moskos

February 19, 2011

Move cops to higher-crime districts

So say the Chicago ministers. Generally, such a move would a good idea. You certainly wouldn't want to move the cops to lower-crime district.

But if this happens, don't be surprised next year when more blacks are arrested and more tickets are given to blacks.

For what's it's worth, one Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church seems to have a pretty understanding of police and politics:
On Friday, the ministers released an open letter to Daley and held a news conference outside his office at which they called on the lame-duck mayor to take advantage of the freedom his new status provides and deliver on a promise he made in 2003. They argued that Weis also has nothing to lose, since all four of the major mayoral candidates have vowed to dump him.

“The timing will never be as good as it is now. This is something they are in a position to do without having to worry about political backlash.”

Hatch added: “There’s a qualitative difference between beat officers in the community as a part of the fabric of a community and tactical, SWAT strategies that tend to have the adverse effects of criminalizing large parts of communities of high crime and high risk.”
Well said, preacher.

Now about the politics. The article in the Sun Times goes on to say:
Political pressure from aldermen who stand to lose police officers has kept the city from redrawing the boundaries of police beats or otherwise reallocating police resources since the late 1970s.

The Fraternal Order of Police has said it intends to strictly enforce a contract that, according to the union, could sharply limit Weis’ ability to reallocate officers from one police district to another.
Last month, mayoral front-runner Rahm Emanuel tried to halt any effort to shift police resources. Emanuel said he was determined to “find policies that unite” the city and argued that shifting officers from lower-crime districts in his North Side political base to higher-crime districts on the South Side and the West Side would only divide Chicago.


hotrod said...

I have no idea what the Chicago police contract actually says, and I acknowledge a pretty strong bias against public sector unions, especially ones related to public safety. Those disclaimers out of the way, the idea that a union might have a say regarding deployments is utterly deranged.

PCM said...

At some level it's utterly deranged.

But at another level it can make sense. One way the bosses like to mess with police officers is by moving them to the opposite side of town (which can add an hour to your commute in a big city) or to the midnight shift (throwing your family life into chaos). As vindictive punishment, it's not good.

Often such transfers as a form arbitrary punishment are prohibited, as they should be. But transfers for strategic reasons need to be allowed.

At some level, the department needs to be able to put officers where they are needed without going through a collective bargaining process.

All this relates to why the hardest, busiest, and most dangerous patrol sectors are usually handled by rookies straight out of the academy who often have no clue what they are doing.

On the other hand, shouldn't somebody with 20 years on have a little more say about where and when they work?

hotrod said...

Peter, I take your point, but strongly doubt that the rights FOP claims in the Chicago matter are a constructive way to address the issue. The nation is working though, typically at a local/state level, the legacy of a bunch of badly negotiated and written public sector contracts, but thats a fairly big discussion.

Off the top of my head, when I deploy into a combat zone, I get combat pay. More money if certain living standards arent available. More money for certain incentive pays. All this suggests a course of action.

Im certainly not an expert on public sector contracts, and its possible, even likely, that other agencies have done some form of this. They may well have run into some of the problems I can think of without particularly trying.

PROPERLY set up though, it could build accountability into the system. Deploy that 15 year guy into a district that crosses threshold x - he can´t say no, but gets multiplier 1.2 instead of the 1.08 that a 5 year guy would get. Or whatever. Let the people that are theoretically held accountable for performance decide if the budget hit is worth it.

And yeah, too stats heavy would be an issue. Set up or managed wrong, it could overfavor the most tactically agressive. It would give budgetary incentives, not just political ones, to walling stuff off instead of dealing with it. And other issues, though mostly the same ones we have now in different flavors. But it could beat the hell out of a union that isnt accountable for shit sneering when a public safety official needs to make deployment decisions.

Above all, none of this changes the fact that FOP is a pack of Byrnes grant whores.