Chicago Mayor Says City's Police Officers Will Be 'Stripped Of Their Powers' If They Turn Off Their Cameras

from the much-much-more-of-this-please dept

Civic leaders are finally at least talking tough about reforming the police departments they’ve barely overseen for years. Protests — some of them violent — have erupted all over the nation, ensuring very few law enforcement agencies can consider themselves above the fray… or above reproach.

We’ll see how much of this talk remains tough (or turns into action) once the heat dies down a bit, but for now, it’s good to see political leaders stepping up to call out their law enforcement agencies as part of the problem.

Chicago has one of the nation’s worst police forces — one that has taken full advantage of the historically-corrupt political system in that city. Add to that another problematic entity that’s found almost everywhere — police unions — and you have a bunch of officers who fear no reprisal, no matter what behavior they engage in.

The internal investigation process for cops accused of criminal acts and misconduct is a black hole where complaints go in but almost nothing comes out, even years after the investigations have closed. This lack of accountability is enforced by the city’s contract with police unions, who have fought every minimal reform effort with gusto.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot knows this. She headed the Chicago Police Board, another oversight effort made mostly toothless by union interference and the police department’s lack of interest in allowing anyone to police it.

So, her comment to NPR doesn’t exactly tell anyone what they’re not already aware of. But it does show Mayor Lightfoot is willing to directly address the root cause of multiple accountability issues.

“Unfortunately, in history in our city, and I think the history of other cities, unions are extraordinarily reluctant to embrace reform and that’s a current state of affairs here,” Lightfoot said in an interview Saturday with NPR’s Weekend Edition. “We have had to take them to arbitration to win very modest reforms, and that’s a shame of the history of collective bargaining where there hasn’t been an emphasis on reform and accountability.”

She also pointed out there needs to be a change in culture if any reforms are going to take hold. That’s a key element that sometimes gets overlooked. Chicago cops have long disliked being watched by anyone, even their own recording devices. The killing of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer could have been observed by any number of dashcams, but it was only captured by one of the four responding vehicles and that recording had no sound. Public records requests uncovered the fact that 80% of the PD’s dashcams did not record sound due to “operator error or intentional destruction.”

The Mayor’s next public statement addressed this history directly. And it adds a level of accountability the Chicago PD has never placed on its own officers.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called out police officers who turn off their body cameras Friday, stating they will be stripped of their “police powers.”

There’s more. Officers who make other efforts to exempt themselves from recognition or responsibility will be similarly professionally disgraced.

“Officers who choose to do those things, or to tape over their badges, or to turn off their body-worn cameras – all things that violate very clear directives of the Chicago Police Department – if you are one of those officers, we will find you, we will identify you, and we will strip you of your police powers. Period,” Lightfoot said.

The police union has yet to respond directly to Lightfoot’s commandeering of officer discipline procedures. When it does finally respond, it won’t offer any contrition on behalf of the officers it represents or agree that officers need more discipline. After all, it’s headed by a thug cop who was elected to his position by officers presumably supportive of his career.

[John] Catanzara is one of the most frequently-disciplined officers in the history of the Chicago Police Department. He is believed to be the first police union president ever elected while stripped of his police powers.

Any incremental increase in accountability is almost always greeted by officer resistance, usually led by their union reps. This will be no different. But if Lightfoot can get it to stick, there are going to be a lot of cops with no cop powers. This will keep them from abusing the power they no longer have, but this corrective action apparently won’t harm their budding police union careers.

The head of the union represents the body. This is who Chicago PD officers wanted representing them. That says a whole lot about why the Chicago PD is in the shape it is today. A few small changes won’t reverse its course. But it may provide a foothold for bigger changes in the future.

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Comments on “Chicago Mayor Says City's Police Officers Will Be 'Stripped Of Their Powers' If They Turn Off Their Cameras”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

If you’ve got a camera but it ‘malfunctions’ such that it’s not recording you should not be treated as a cop by the legal system for anything you do during that ‘malfunction’.

If your badge ‘for some strange reason’ get obstructed so that members of the public can’t identify you then you should be treated as off the clock and any actions will be as though you didn’t have a badge at all.

The idea that police who take active steps to avoid identification and accountability should be treated as though they weren’t cops, stripped of the special privilege they otherwise enjoy as cops really shouldn’t be seen as a huge or strange idea. Disgusting that it needs to come to that, but the idea shouldn’t be seen as extreme in the slightest. That said, I have no doubt that when the union pulls it’s head from it’s ass and gets around to responding they will likely throw the tantrum to end all tantrums, shocked and appalled at the very idea that their precious cops face any sort of accountability, and by their actions showing just how corrupt they have become for anyone who might have recently taken a blow to the head and forgotten.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

So let me remind you of the BLM TRUTH!

—The labor of Third World people has been stolen through slavery,
super-exploited at low wages, and channeled into production meant to
benefit the oppressor nation. Profits are drained from the Third World.
Where reinvestment takes place within the oppressed nation, the priorities of
the corporate powers determine where it will go.

—The natural resources and raw materials of Third World countries
have been expropriated by the imperialist powers, particularly the US. The
recent actions of the oil-producing countries and the copper-producing
countries are important attempts by Third World nations to wrest back
control of these resources, and with them, of their own destinies.

—Diversification of industry, real progress and rational economic
growth arc prevented by imperialism. Where industriahzation is allowed to
occur, control remains firmly in imperialist hands and, most often,
consumer-oriented industries are pushed rather than agriculture or heavy
industry. This keeps the ”developing" country dependent on imperialist
technology and aid.

THAT’S RIGHT! AND BLM IS THE ANSWER! PAY IN FOR YOUR GARBAGE, BOTH REAL AND FROM YOUR PARENTS, IN ADVANCE, JUST LIKE OBAMACARE! IT IS YOUR DUTY AND WE AT BLM REQUIRE IT! REPORT YOUR PRIVILEGE! EVERY DAY! GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES!

This message approved by Joe Biden, the Intellectually Absent President (in his mind, and Hillary’s)

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

The idea that a black man should, at some point in the future, NOT have to kneel before the white man sends him into anxiety attacks.

I can somehow understand that. If you are such a loser in life nobody has less to be proud of you’ll cling to the idea that there is someone you still get to kick, with a white-knuckled grip.

That’s what the bottom layer of a white supremacy group looks like. Utter no-hope losers who have failed at absolutely everything and are now left with the idea that at least the color of their skin, to which they were born by chance, means they’re "better" than someone else who might be just as badly off but has dark skin.

Equality means taking that away, stripping them of the mental crutch which is, well, all they have left to lean on. It’s tough, being a racist shitheap.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

Weird. you state a number of obvious and available facts which have been argued over and debated for many years by independent researchers all around the world…
…and then come out with the idea that fighting racism in the US is primarily related to the result of bad national realpolitik?

White supremacists have finally gone over the deep end completely.
If racial equality is such a menace you feel compelled to argue that it’s the next new Global Conspiracy then why the fsck would you choose to remain in a nation which was founded on egalitarian principles and the writing on racial equality had been on the wall since civil war times?

But hey, at least this time you managed to get the "But Obama!" in sideways. I guess your KKK membership card is safe then.

Anon says:

Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

The interesting question is – what happens to qualified immunity from civil lawsuits when a police officer is not really a police officer? The essence of QI is that you cannot be sued for "doing your job" any more than a judge can be sued for the sentence he hands down or a DMV official for flunking your driving test or eyesight test.

But… if you are not empowered as a police officer through your own actions and you know it, and act in an inappropriate way – presumably you are wide open to personal lawsuits.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

The interesting question is – what happens to qualified immunity from civil lawsuits when a police officer is not really a police officer?

It would be gone, and they would be treated no differently than anyone else who doesn’t enjoy the magical ‘get out of personal responsibility’ card that is QI.

Mind, I would prefer that the whole rotten QI be killed off entirely, but until that happens ‘no QI if you take any steps to avoid accountability’ would at least make for a good improvement.

gamesjon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

I’m about to respond to Anon, but I did just want to add that the issue isn’t quite as simply as you seem to imagine. Now, I am absolutely for eliminating QI & rebuilding something different & significantly more restrained… but what Anon means is that most of what the police do physically in their job would be called crimes if you or I did it. If you were to "arrest" someone you would be charged with false imprisonment & kidnapping. If you were to drive like police typically do when responding to an actual emergency or serious call then you would be guilty of dozens of traffic violations & reckless endangerment. The list goes on & on.

From what I understand about the historical development of the QI doctrine it originally was just supposed to do what most of us would think it should do [i.e. if a cop arrests someone who legitimately violated the law they can’t be sued for kidnapping & false imprisonment.]However, it was in the early 1980s that Supreme Court decisions began to alter its interpretation in a pretty significant way which is led to this almost blanket immunity no matter what they do.

But, if there was not some formal thing that tried to lay out exactly what immunity they get what do you think is more likely to happen; A) police get the type of limited immunity they should have for their legitimate job functions & lose that immunity when they engage in some sort of misconduct or inappropriate behavior or B) police get full blanket immunity for anything & everything they do?

gamesjon (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

The essence of QI is that you cannot be sued for "doing your job"…

The problem though is that this has not been how QI has functioned for a number of years now. It began to substantially change in nature beginning with the 1982 Harlow v. Fitzgerald decision which fundamentally altered past precedent in what sort of judicial tests claims are put through. Today, cops have immunity no matter what the facts are or what they did unless a plaintiff can find precedent that meets the "clearly established law" requirement & with the required level of specificity.

Let me quote here from a March 1, 2020 article in the North Carolina Law Review A One-Two Punch: How Qualified Immunity’s Double Dose of Reasonableness Dooms Excessive Force Claims in the Fourth Circuit:

In Mullenix v. Luna, the Fifth Circuit found that shooting a fleeing motorist in a high-speed pursuit violated a clearly established right, but the Supreme Court reversed & rebuked the Fifth Circuit for describing the right too broadly. Although the Fifth Circuit described the officer’s actions as "deadly force against a fleeing felon who does not pose a sufficient threat of harm to the officer or others," the correct inquiry was whether the officer’s conduct was prohibited "in the ‘situation [she] confronted. ‘" With proper specificity, the analysis should have included pivotal facts: "a reportedly intoxicated fugitive, set on avoiding capture through high-speed vehicular flight, who twice during his flight had threatened to shoot police officers, & who was moments away from encountering an officer at Cemetery Road. " With those new facts, the case law became too muddied to establish a clear rule for the officer to have followed. And if the case law is too murky, a plaintiff like Mullenix cannot use it to analogize to his own case & show the law was clearly established.

The Supreme Court itself had already included a number of Qualified Immunity cases in the cases that they are currently considering on taking, even prior to all the recent events they had put forward a list of 13 such cases on their list of cases they were considering… although they ultimately rejected 3 of those & are undecided on the others.

Also, yeah the slogans for changes to this legal doctrine have been about "ending qualified immunity," but like pretty much every slogan ever [especially slogans for things that are complicated & technical in nature,] they are extremely simplified ways to message a more detailed, boring idea that 99% of people simply tune out. None of the ideas that have been legitimately considered or pushed [by people who can actually implement them & not some random person,] are things that eliminate qualified immunity. They merely change the details of its technical implementation in the courts. Most of them, if not all them, either reverse or prohibit the use of the problem-causing changes in the doctrine that began happening in the 1980s.

Kitsune106 says:

Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

I do live action roleplay. And I do run with an in-game group. So my actions reflect on that group and I get to use that groups authority…. But only when I am wearing my tabard/colors. Same for police. If police cannot be easily identified.or go to lengths to hide… We should treat as not cops. After all, how are.we to know a cop and not someone pretending.

Irl, there was.someone who was dressed up as a national guard who got caught. And given police are out with little identification, how do we know it’s really police and not bad actors? Police should be required to be identified now. Republicans claims terrorist are.out to get us. False flags by.twrrorists.as.police would be one way
And how will you disprove it when all the legit police are.hiding too?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: 'If the uniform is off, you're not a cop.'

What would really make this effective is a city ordinance that declares that any on-duty action taken by a police officer who has their badge covered or body camera off/non-functional will be considered an action by a private citizen.

Therefore the police insurance won’t cover them, they won’t be shielded by qualified immunity, they will be subject to all the same laws non-cops are to the fullest extent of the law, any arrests they make are considered citizen’s arrests, they can’t lawfully possess a firearm where a private citizen could not, their court testimony is treated the same as that of any citizen, etc.

No need for anyone to file paperwork or appeal something or declare anything, just make their police powers automatically null and void.

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Dan Bongino and BCP says:

Re: and...

You are so right.

US society is corrupted by the values that necessarily accompany
piracy —racism, greed, competitiveness, brutality, sexism, callousness. The
ruling class calls the backward, criminal aspects of culture into being and sets
them into motion. The society is the rat-race, marked hv an anti-social
premium on individualism. There is a stark poverty for masses of people
materially and culturally, a poverty in the quality of life. Not like the Chinese! They’re organized, all in agreement, and ready to support their Government! Not like you assholes! Wait, what? Techdirt is the Pirate party?

—Hunger and starvation are world realities. In the US over 30
million people cannot afford to meet basic nutritional needs. Especially Vitamin D, which is freely available with sunshine, now prohibited! In spite of
these facts, the US government pays farmers billions of dollars a year not to
grow food. This keeps food prices high. The war of the rich and the poor has
taken on terrible proportions —the face of famine, malnutrition, epidemic
against the face of glut. Glut? Really? Fat Fuckers like Michael Moore?

Well, actually that was 60 years ago. Now the Chinese are ready to suck our dicks (all of ’em), because of my personal friend Donald J. Trump, the Magnificent.

And now my friend will be YOUR FRIEND as we CRUSH these LEFTIST TRAITOROUS SEDITIOUS RAT BASTARDS (Techdirt).

Thank you Bill Barr for your Terrorist Designation of Techdirt.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 and...

"I think it’s the return of blue boy."

Oh, he never left. Despite giving us all hope several times by promising to do so.

But it’s pretty telling the only times he comes out with real gusto is when he finds the opportunity to stand on a soapbox and declare the virtues of copyright maximalism or white supremacy.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: and...

"Can’t tell if this is meant as parody/satire of how leftists view you, or if you’re being completely serious."

The problem is that the average trumpist sounds like a bad parody of a clown to begin with. I mean there are comedians out there who gave up on trying to parody Trump because no matter what they did he’d beat them at their own game by doing or saying something even more deranged the very next day.

Unless you see the sarcasm tag at the end, that little /s, then unfortunately assume it’s some trumpist going at it for real.

Normally. This particular commenter, however, has a few tells to him which give away his identity. He’s wrecked Poe’s law well before Trump was ever a factor and he’s never been anything less than completely insane in his comments. That’s how Baghdad Bob rolls. Or Hamilton, Jhon, bobmail, or whatever else he likes to currently call his sock puppet accounts.

Upstream (profile) says:

She also pointed out there needs to be a change in culture if any reforms are going to take hold. That’s a key element that sometimes gets overlooked.

This ^. A change in culture usually requires broad, principled, sustained pressure, from a variety of sources, over a considerable period of time. Most politicians have a "sound bite / photo op / check which way the wind blows" mentality, which is good for getting elected, but not for changing a culture.

Your Friendly NIKE Salesman (also BLM part time) says:

Re: Re:

US society is corrupted by the values that necessarily accompany
US society—racism, greed, competitiveness, brutality, sexism, callousness. The
ruling class calls the backward, criminal aspects of culture into being and sets
them into motion. The society is the rat-race, marked hv an anti-social
premium on individualism. There is a stark poverty for masses of people
materially and culturally, a poverty in the quality of life. Just look at the people here! Techdirt is Corrupt and Not Fit for BLM!

Change the Culture? The Chinese Revolution? The Soviet Revolution? The American Revolution? Omerica? Obama-America, the SOLUTION to the CORRUPTED American Society. PAY YOUR GARBAGE FEES. STAY INSIDE! No VITAMIN D! If you want to protest for BLM, that’s OK, but otherwise, STAY INSIDE AND PAY YOUR GARBAGE. Thank you and don’t forget to contribute, On Your Knees, you WHITE SUPREMACIST ASSHOLES! CONTRIBUTE TO BLM! INTEL DID! NIKE DID! DO IT! DO IT! CONTRIBUTE! OR ELSE! JUST DO IT!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
DannyB (profile) says:

Stripped of their Immunity

I don’t want them only stripped of their powers, I want them also stripped of any qualified immunity.

Cops that complain about cameras are the ones we DON’T want. Those cameras work both ways. They not only make obvious who the bad cops are, but they also are valuable defense for false claims against good cops.

And there are good cops out there. The simple fact is that 99% of cops give the rest a bad name.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Stripped of their Immunity

US society is corrupted by the values that necessarily accompany
piracy —racism, greed, competitiveness, brutality, sexism, callousness. The
ruling class calls the backward, criminal aspects of culture into being and sets
them into motion. The society is the rat-race, marked hv an anti-social
premium on individualism. There is a stark poverty for masses of people
materially and culturally, a poverty in the quality of life.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Stripped of their Immunity

Stripped? Stripped Naked? Pervert!

Another major factor at this point was the rebellion of women
against sexism in the society and in the left. The left is not immune from the
sexism which pervades US society: the oppressor culture persists and must
be opposed and fought again and again. This requires an active commitment
to anti-sexism. In the late sixties and early seventies many women left the
anti-imperialist movement and built a separate women’s movement. Sisters
inside —and now outside— the anti-imperiliast movement began to force men
to deal with their sexist practice. These were absolutely necessary advances.
The struggles against sexism did not only mean criticism and change of
individual practice, they also transformed the overall analysis of the left. The
contradiction was that the women’s movement, rejecting sexist and
authoritarian leadership, raised blanket challenges to all forms of leadership
and organization in the movement, good and had, and failed at that point to
build lasting organizations to carry on the task of strong determined
anti-imperialist struggle.

Pay your garbage fees! Contribute to BLM! OR Else.

(A friendly community reminder from your local Obama zealot)

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Thad (profile) says:

Re: Stripped of their Immunity

I don’t want them only stripped of their powers, I want them also stripped of any qualified immunity.

House Democrats introduced a bill yesterday that would greatly restrict QI. It doesn’t go far enough, and I don’t think there’s any chance of it passing this Senate and this President, but I think even getting Congress to talk about QI is an important step.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hi cities! Rewrite you laws and the charters for your police departments, ok? Cut them in half, divorce any special units (like SWAT) from regular policing (and stop using them for normal warrant service and bill collection), create departments to handle the various things that police or paramedics regularly get called to handle for which most of them are wholly unqualified.

Remove any fusion center from your town. Stop buying military hardware. Stop using air surveillance and cell site simulators. Stop your (already illegal and against policy) political intel gathering operations.

After warming up with this, then we can get to work.

Rishgzh (user link) says:

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