A major component of the impression that departing Chicago police superintendent Philip Cline made “was that he had the street cop’s back,” says Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown. “If you want aggressive police work, you don’t want olice officers worrying that the bureaucrats in the department are looking for ways to undermine them,” Brown says. Yet the first responsibility of police is to the community they serve, not each other. “That’s where Phil Cline went wrong,” Brown says. “Somehow, too many of the people he commanded didn’t get that message clearly enough.”
Cline isn’t responsible for what a drunk officer did while off duty, nor for an incident in which six off-duty officers are accused of beating four businessmen in a downtown bar. Brown says, however, that “he has to take the blame for the department’s failure to step in decisively in both cases and for the ridiculous stunt last week” in which fellow officers of an accused cop shielded him from the media and harassed reporters attempting to cover his court appearance.