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by Peter Moskos

May 22, 2012

Good Policing in Chicago

Well done. I wasn't expecting things to go so well with the NATO summit. But they did. Kudos to Police Superintendent McCarthy and all the men and women of the Chicago Police Department. Lesson can be learned (particularly by West Coast police departments that don't seem to be so good at this) and proper preparation is key.

1) Don't tolerate minor disturbances. Because they will grow to big disturbances, especially when those disturbances are perpetrated by people intent on chaos and damage. And once you lob the tear gas, you've already lost control.

2) Intel.

3) Target individuals who are doing things and not the crowd en mass.

4) Have the top brass out there with the rank-and-file. This seemingly minor point is vitally important. And when a good word about McCarthy comes from the lips of Second City Cop, you know he's done something right.


IrishPirate said...

Greek phalanx....

Read about it here boys and girls.


I'm sure Pedro likes to use that phrase before he gets amorous with Mrs Pedro.

It pains me to say it, but McCarthy did a great job. Surprising to me given his well documented anger and alcohol issues.

There is no such thing as perfection in this life, but the Chicago Police Department did better than could be reasonably expected. Infiltrate the crowds, grab the idiots, deploy cameras and have them watched at a central location so directions can be given, only respond with force when met with force, etc.

Hell, the most important cops out there may have been bike cops who used their bikes to herd the crowds.

The police were handing out water bottles to the protesters and for the most part avoided wearing helmets and appearing extra menacing. It's important for both sides to perceive the other side as human.

"Spotting a protester walking by with a donut on a string, hung from a stick an officer shouted, "Give me that donut!"


The "black bloc" anarchists must be very pissed off today. They did their best to goad the police into overreacting and they failed.

If I were a budding youngish sociologist I might try to get a grant to study the way the CPD handled the protests. That is if I wasn't giving my wife the "Greek Phalanx" treatment.

PCM said...

I love to hear about bike cops doing good. Almost as much as I love a good Greek Phalanx. But, alas, the missus is out of town. Beirut, of all places. I'm going next month, if it doesn't explode first. I believe when the shooting starts they call that city, "Chicago on the Sea."

DB said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with having the command structure out there. In this case, the COP made it clear he was supporting his boys (and girls). I believe the reason this was such a success is due to what appears to be an obvious command structure and clearly defined rules of engagement - something so poorly handled during the UC Davis episode.

PCM said...

Not to mention the UC Davis campus cops were probably a little too eager about of moment of "real" police work. (My apologies for the diss, but when the shit hits the fan, I'll take big city cops any day.)

College Cop said...

Well, speaking for campus cops everywhere, that "diss" is totally unfair, it suggests you don't have a lot of experiance with sworn campus police (do they even have those in your part of the country?).

Campus cops deal with a young, usually rowdy and head strong population of people who'se brains won't even finish developing by the time the (hopefully) graduate, in what can mostly be described as "more liberal than the national average" environment ran by academic types (read: adult hippies) who might not be the most...realistic or sympathetic to Law Enforcment in the 1st place.

AND YET, "campus police" don't make the news for bad things/misconduct very often in this country, despite working everything in the middle of a powder keg.

So yea, if by "real" police work you mean "reacting to stuff people (whom you don't really know because you're in a patrol vehicle all day) do", sure, stick with those big city cops, but if you think "real" police work is preventing the bad stuff from happening (to a community of people you actually know beause you are -walking- among them everyday) in the 1st place, feel free to ring up campus police :) .

Also, saw your comment at the agitator, bravo for standing up to anti-cop bigots (for which nothing a police officer does will ever be ok).

PCM said...

Thanks, College Cop. And you're right, I do not have a lot of experience with sworn campus police.

Anonymous said...

Regarding those comments at The Agitator, I was less enthused than College Cop. As a long time reader of your blog and a fan of "Cop in the Hood," I was actually really disappointed.

Let me be blunt: the NYPD Officer--and I use the term loosely--sounded like a gangster in blue. A thug with a shiny badge. Indeed, he reminded me of the Denzel Washington character from "Training Day." Creepy.

It wasn't the profanity that bothered me. It was the fact that he was caught on camera committing assault multiple times (assault, at least in IL is a credible threat of bodily harm). The guy he was talking to wasn't attacking him or saying anything but "yes sir," so it's not like Officer Friendly was in physical danger.

If a private citizen said that shit to someone--especially the police--they could be charged. As a healthcare security officer (non-sworn, so I'm not one of "da boyz," of course), if I threatened to sodomize someone on the job I assure you I would be fired. Of course I don't have the FOP boys (who remind me more and more of Tony Soprano every day)to back me up if I decide to go all gangsta.

Look, I understand that sometimes please and thank you aren't sufficient. I have had my life threatened. I have been attacked on the job. I routinely deal with the same people the police deal with every day. Yes, sometimes you have to speak to people "in their own tounge." And yes, I occasionally spice up my dialouge with some of the local vernacular. I have also traded threats with thugs on rare occasions. You probably did the same during your time with BPD. But the actions of that NYPD goon were indefensible.

On The Agitator, you inferred that the cops know the drug war can't be won, so they are settling for respect. Is that acceptable, Peter? Is it moral? If they know the drug war can't be won, maybe they should do something about it. Stop cooperating en-masse. The police have been known to engage in civil disobedience, after all. Of course that is usually only when they want more money or when they want to protect a colleauge from accountability.

But if it is the case that the police are settling for respect today, them aren't they just acting like traditional, non-government gangsters. Its sociology 101, Peter. Gangsters become gangsters, it is said, for protection and so that they can gain respect. Is this why people become police these days? "If you can't beat the thugs, join the biggest gang in town!" Perhaps that should be the new recruiting slogan.

You may be on to something, Peter. Maybe it is all about respect backed by the coercive power (read: guns) of government. That's the primary reason I stopped looking at LEO jobs. I am NOT my occupation. Even if I were to be a police officer, I would be a human and a citizen first. And I suppose that means I would not last long in the current environment. Are you still a cop first and citizen/human second, Peter?

Dave- IL

PCM said...

Thanks for the comment, Dave.

I think it comes down to the war on drugs putting cops in a no-win situation.

But also the fact that cops can't get punked. Both for the law they represent but also for their own safety.

And also, harsh as his words were, let us keep in mind (best we know) he didn't actually do any of those things.

PCM said...

College Cop, about the UC Davis events.... Do you think part of the reason the cops over-reacted is because they were college cops? (ie: existing about a big event, getting to use new toys, etc.)

I think you make very good point that college cops are probably much better than city cops at handling certain crowd situations and keeping things from getting out of hand. But maybe they're not well trained/used to protest style civil disobedience with potential for use of force? What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Of course the war on drugs can't be won (nor should it be). But I am not sure if a large percentage of officers see this as a problem.

When you see everything through the lens of job security, I suppose it seems logical to support a make-work government clusterfuck. The biggest supporters of the drug war are--in addition to "tough on crime" politicians--the unions representing police and CO's.

You say police "can't get punked." Really? Again, it sounds like you are openly (and favorably) comparing the job of a police officer to a gangster. As you know, some of the libertarians and anarchists on The Agitator would happily agree with you on that. Speaking as a non-anarchist (ideology is mostly a trap anyway, I think), I will just say that it seems like you are condoning a race to the bottom where police ethics are concerned.

And why would the police be so eager to stick up for the "law they represent." Laws concerning vice enforcement INVITE disrespect. If the police don't like being disrespected, perhaps they should act in a more respectable manner by not undermining fourth amendment rights, by not issuing threats to non-violent citizens, by not shooting family pets and battering in doors in the middle of the night, by not beating scrawny schizophrenic homeless men to death in the streets, etc..

American policing is at a critical point right now, Peter. Are we going to have a liberal democratic society or the police just going to take the gloves off and beat us into submission once and for all. That's why I don't regret my decsion to opt out of LEO careers, because I am not sure this country is going to fall down on the right side of the fence. I know whose side I'm on, and I'm pretty sure this would have led to a pretty short career anyway.

Dave- IL

College Cop said...

-College Cop, about the UC Davis events.... Do you think part of the reason the cops over-reacted is because they were college cops? (ie: existing about a big event, getting to use new toys, etc.)-

Not knowing any UC Davis Police Officers, I couldn't say. I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that those unauthorized weapons they used were new, they could have had them for years, maybe even used them. Who knows?

But speaking as a campus police officer in Texas (and my sister, now a deputy sheriff, started off as a college police officer in San Francisco, California) I can tell you that Campus LE is like the rest of LE in one key aspect: Outsiders tend to make biased assumptions of it with very little evidence or experiance.

I get it from city cops all the time, they think we (I and/or my guys, I'm a supervisory officer) are some how just "itching" to be them and do what they brand as "real police work", when for most of us (and most College/university Police Officer in general) this isn't our 1st job in LE. In other words, most guys in my department used to be municipal or county level LEOs and have "been there done that", very few of our guys are fresh out of an academy 1st time LEOs.

City/County officers/deputies tend to think everyone wants to be them. It's like that in the military, every marine thinks everyone else wants to be a marine wallowing in the dirt, while in reality, some folks are happy to be in the Air Force like my dad was, because dirt is dirty :) .

Of course corelation doesn't equal causation, but some things to consider:

Campus Police Tend to be older than municipal/county street Officers/road deputies. Older officers tend to get in less trouble.

And while patrol cops tend to have more training hours, campus cops tend to have higher levels of formal education ( most likely because college/universites tend to give employees free or discounted classes). Higher education levels corelate to lower misconduct levels

Campus Police get used to anti-police sentiment starting on day one, and while there is some measure of respect for any cop, campus police are not held in the highest esteem (what kid you know plays "campus cops and underclassmen robbers" LOL). The ones that can't handle that leave if they can, leaving people at the campus PD who have thick enough skins. Thick skin = not likely to do something stupid.

UCPD at Davis was/is simply a dysfunctional organization (where the Lt. was the real power and the Chief was more or less Queen Elizibeth lol), and that can happen to any PD or any other human organization. It says nothing about campus cops in general. If you saw campus cops in the news all the time, that would tell you something, the fact that you don't, also tells you something.

LE isn't one size fits all, and people with city cop experiance tend to sometimes not grasp the concept.

Anonymous said...

I believe you redacted part of the last comment I left you. Like I'm some common troll. Damn, that's cold. Oh well, it's your blog.

Like I said before, I've been visiting "Cop in the Hood" for some time now. Other than "The Agitator" I really don't pay attention to other blogs. I find most of them to be intellectually vacuous. Yours was one of the notable exceptions. That's why I was disappointed, Peter. I expect more of you.

Maybe I touched a nerve when I went into the whole citizen first, cop second thing. So be it. I'm just to the point where I am so distressed at the direction law enforcement is taking that I'm done being politically correct. I won't be a bobble head for anyone.

But hey, I know when I'm not wanted. I just hope your blog doesn't turn into another PoliceOne, whose commenters often seem to represent the thuggish bottom of the barrel. Consider me 10-7, Officer Moskos.

Dave- IL

PCM said...


I don't have the ability to edit comments. (I can delete them, but I can't edit them.) Which is my way of saying I didn't touch your comment. I like your comments.

As I've said before, as a non-paying not-profit endeavor, I don't really care who reads and doesn't read this blog. But you've added good stuff to this blog, and I hope you continue to do so.

PCM said...

Thanks, College Cop. I live and learn.

ecCoastie said...

What is “the agitator”

PCM said...


IrishPirate said...


Video along with CPD audio from the protests.

The CPD did a fine job keeping the black bloc assholes in check.

Anonymous said...

Regarding my last comment, I accept your explanation and I apologize for jumping to conclusions. I don't know what happened exactly, but maybe I accidently deleted a portion prior to submitting. I also appreciate your kind words. In spite of recent our disagreement, I still think your work on policing and prohibition is important and I will keep checking your blog. Thanks.

Dave- IL

DB said...

Interesting points on all sides. Here's my take. I agree with Peter in that there is a possibility for college cops to get a rise out of a situation such as this. I have lots of friends who do this type of specialty policing and it's a bit more boring than municipal policing - however I don't wholly discredit them - they are cops and deal with many a difficult situation in their own right. On the other hand, big city cops are sometimes lacking in many areas as well - they do little more than stick a finger in the hole until someone better trained comes along to take over - so, there's stuff to be said on both sides. I've worked transit and I've worked municipal - both are a pain in the butt all the way around - should have been a firefighter....

IrishPirate said...

Village Voice has a slideshow on how the NYPD handled recent protests versus the way the Chicago Police have handled things.


Also the Brooklyn Zombie Crawl afterparty.


Perhaps being undead isn't that bad.