The Emperor is Naked

We need to face facts if we want to reduce murder

By Jim Glennon  |   Jun 24, 2019

A headline from the Chicago Sun-Times two weeks ago: “High-ranking Chicago cop in hot water with [Mayor] Lightfoot for taking vacation as summer violence spikes.” Days later it was still a banner headline on city newscasts. It was discussed ad nauseum in the media.

Meanwhile, the emperor rides butt-naked past the shrilling voices that see the obvious nudity on display. They dare not speak of it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a naked emperor, it comes from a Hans Christian Anderson tale and has become an expression to convey the absurdity of groupthink and fear among adults, especially those in power, who believe obvious absurdities.

Back to Chicago

The violence in certain parts of the city is completely out of control. In terms of raw homicide numbers, it’s the most violent city in the country. Ex-mayor Rahm Emmanuel, the ACLU, and other political sorts play fast and loose with the stats. They downplay the numbers by comparing them to the city’s overall population and then use those ratios to tout how safe the city is.

Why? To assuage fears of investors, assure visitors, and, most of all, avoid talking about the Naked Emperor in plain view.

Problem is, those smoke-and-mirror tactics don’t do a thing for those people living in the neighborhoods under siege.

Here’s the reality. According to the website HeyJackass, which tracks virtually every shooting and murder in the city, 75% of Chicago homicides are committed in 15 of the 77 generally recognized neighborhoods. More than 30 neighborhoods have none.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a 2017 University of Chicago Crime Lab study revealed that “five South and West side communities with 9 percent of Chicago’s population (Austin, Englewood, New City, West Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing) accounted for nearly half the city’s increase in 2016 homicides. African-American men ages 15 – 34 made up more than half of the city’s homicide victims in 2015 and 2016 while accounting for just 4 percent of the city’s population.”

Politicians, community groups, media types, the ACLU, and sundry activists, are constantly in the press trying to pinpoint the reasons and place blame in order to explain this terrorizing violence. These supposed intellectuals yammer on about everything but the obvious truth. But avoiding the truth helps nothing. Violence continues.

Some examples.

Gun violence. They refer to the carnage as “gun violence” as if unmanned firearms are running through the streets firing indiscriminately at anyone who moves.

Availability of guns. The proliferation and availability of firearms is another cause, which of course is complete nonsense. Remember: 30 of the 77 neighborhoods have no homicides. So how exactly do safe neighborhoods keep guns unavailable?

Poverty?

Lack of opportunity?

Race?

Age?

None of that really pans out. It’s not a racial or age thing at all. Just as it isn’t a poverty thing. If any of those were true, violence would be pervasive everywhere you found people of a certain color, age, and/or poverty level. That’s not true nationally or even at the local level.

But those with power, position, and platforms continue to talk about the drivers of violence—though obviously none are actual causal factors. They offer solutions that won’t solve a thing. They instead place blame where almost none belongs: the Chicago cops.

Why it’s so frustrating to see this play out day after day is that you can’t shout the obvious in this city, which is, “the emperor has no clothes!”

So here’s the question. Why the rampant homicide in certain geographic areas?

Simple—and I feel ancient saying it: Morals. There’s a breakdown of family, honor, and hope in these places. And I’ve seen it first hand: kids who would pick up a gun and fire indiscriminately into a birthday party with zero compunction; parents who abandon their children; rampant substance abuse and unemployment …

No love. No hope. No real support or future. It’s a recipe for murder.

But the onlooker, enthralled with the emperor’s ideal, dare not speak these obvious truths. Instead, we blame the Chicago police and one cop taking a preplanned, prepaid, seven-day vacation with his family.

One cop out of 12,000.

His absence is the reason there were 34 people wounded (attempted homicide) and seven murdered in one weekend?

That same weekend, the new mayor pushed police brass to have officers hit the streets in the most violent neighborhoods and so 1,200 additional cops fanned out. She was confident, prior to that weekend, that such a strategy was bound to work.

It didn’t. And not because of one cop in Aruba.

The next weekend when he was back? 10 dead and 52 wounded.

The mayor, mind you, is intelligent and, I believe, well intentioned. This despite the fact that she announced to press “Accountability Monday,” wherein Chicago PD brass would be held to account for weekend mayhem and bloodshed.

The Sun-Times reported that, “Lightfoot has acknowledged that she is ‘pushing’ [Police Superintendent] Johnson and his team to have a ‘sense of urgency’ about reducing the traditional summer surge of violence. She wants them to be more ‘proactive’ and to use all of the data analytics and other tools at their disposal to implement a crime-fighting strategy.”

Perfect.

Except for one thing: reality.

Because, as I’ve been saying for the last five years, the more proactive police are, the more citizen complaints they will receive and the higher the likelihood for mistakes. The more that is done, the more shrill the ACLU and other activists will become. To cut to the chase, no one in law enforcement wants to be branded as a racist or a thug. Yet that’s what will happen.

Case in point. Last summer, Harith Augustus, 37, was confronted by several officers when they saw a gun, in a holster, on his waistband. He broke away, reaching for the weapon. He was shot and killed by Chicago police officers.

Police were immediately demonized. There were violent protests that resulted in hospitalized officers. Days later a picture of a sleeping cop in a CPD squad car was on the front page of Chicago papers. The implication was that the police went back to standing down.

This is basic psychology! People will be motivated if their efforts result in positive outcomes. Any proactivity comes with a risk to an officer’s career. And since it is impossible to mandate proactivity, well, it disappears.

A couple fundamental questions.

1. Why is there violence?
2. How it can be abated?

We already addressed why the violence earlier. It’s people who have no moral conscious and live in a culture where life is cheap (Naked Emperor 1).

How do we stop it?

Here’s the real challenge. My recommendation: Use a gun in commission of any crime, get a mandatory enhanced penalty. Make a show of it. 10 years. No leniency, no plea agreements, no time off for good behavior. Do your time.

Is this feasible? Not in the current climate de-incarceration and political correctness (Naked Emperor 2). But I would ask the critics to bear this in mind: We aren’t talking about marijuana or jaywalking or parking tickets. We’re talking about murder.

Conclusion

The average American, I’m convinced, has been led to believe that prisons are full of peaceful potheads and the cops are out of control. This is the narrative the media and our leaders perpetuate. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. The majority in prison are men who have committed violent crimes. Their sentences average only 30 months.

If lives are to be saved, somebody with courage is going to have to step forward, acknowledge that the emperor is naked, and start focusing on the real problems. Solutions exist, I believe. In the original tale, it took a child to see them. But as for the adults? I fear this may be another long and deadly summer.

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Jim Glennon
Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard, Ill. PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.
Jim Glennon

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