Chicago operates what is widely acknowledged as the nation’s model for dealing with abusive cops and their victims, the Tacoma News Tribune says. The proof is in the number of victims willing to step forward and ask for help. In Chicago, the annual average ratio of abuse reports is 1 report for every 54 officers on the 13,500-person force.
In Tacoma, within the 380-officer department Chief David Brame ran before he shot his wife and killed himself, the annual ratio is 1 complaint for every 532 cops. The newspaper says that doesn’t mean cops are less violent in Tacoma. It may mean that as many as 90 percent of the women abused by cops in Tacoma are too afraid to report the crime – women like Crystal Brame.
“You’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg” in Tacoma if reporting rates are that low, said Jan Russell, a victims’ advocate in the Chicago program. “You don’t really know what’s going on (or) how serious the problem is until it’s safe for the victims to come forward.”
The Chicago program, developed by its police department a decade ago, may be the only program in the nation that has convinced spouses and girlfriends that they can safely report abuse, and get the abusive cop dealt with or dismissed.
While Tacoma failed to deal with the warning signs evident in divorce papers filed by Crystal Brame, this month in Chicago a deputy chief, Richard Guerrero, was stripped of his gun and badge and removed from his position after allegations he had harassed or stalked his estranged wife. Guerrero has been reassigned to a desk job while the department investigates his actions and decides whether he should be disciplined or fired.