‘Emboldened Criminal Population’ Cited in IL Crime

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Violence in Chicago again is making national news, with the nine people killed last Monday marking the city’s highest single-day toll of shooting deaths in years, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Chicago Police Department and City Hall are grappling with more than a rise in shootings and killings. Other violent crime categories, including sexual assaults, robberies, and aggravated batteries, also are up this year compared with the same period in 2015. The rise in crime citywide and this latest bloody week, which saw 84 people shot, 19 of them killed as of Friday, are signs that criminals have become emboldened as cops “stand down” amid heightened attention over the police shootings of Laquan McDonald, Paul O’Neal, and other young, black men, says Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of police studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I think what you have now is the worst of all worlds,” says O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer. “Cops have just checked out physically or physiologically. And the bad guys know this. . . . It’s a national phenomenon.”

Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, rejects the idea that his members aren’t protecting people. Still, he says officers aren’t “as proactive as they used to be,” in part because of concerns they’ll be branded racially insensitive at a time when the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Chicago Police Department over issues including possible racial bias. “I don’t believe they’re out there driving and looking for groups like they used to,” Angelo says of Chicago cops. “In the old gang-crime days, we would go out, search them, take their names, identify them and tell them we would be back. “I’ve been saying this for two years now, that we’ll be seeing upticks” in crime, Angelo says. “We have a much more emboldened criminal population out there.”

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